AFC Bournemouth vs Leicester
K/O: 15:00 hours
Venue: The Vitality Stadium
Referee: Craig Pawson
A Jamie Vardy buoyed Leicester City face a dogged Bournemouth side who are unbeaten at home in their last seven competitive games and are looking to continue their fine start to the season.
Eddie Howe’s side are in good form this season, only losing to Chelsea this season following back-to-back wins against Cardiff and West Ham before an exciting 2-2 draw with Everton. With only a point separating them in the table, this is the perfect away clash to set the tone for the upcoming list of fixtures for the Foxes. With three of the next four matches on the road (one in the Carabao Cup), and only one win out of two away from home so far, it’s key the men in blue hit the ground running on Saturday.
Jamie Vardy will be a key figure as he is set to return for Claude Puel’s side following his three-game ban. Vardy missed three games following his red card against Wolves and the Foxes will be desperate to have him back available for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off.
The Cherries kicked off their season with a home win over newly promoted Cardiff City. They then came back from behind to beat a struggling West Ham on the road 2-1, before a stunning 2-2 draw back at home against Everton. Their last match before the break was against high-flying Chelsea and while they held on as long as they could, the Blues finally broke their defences after 72 minutes and eventually down 2-0.
In the Cherries two wins they averaged over 10 shots per match and have scored two goals. Against Cardiff they bossed the possession with 63% but failed to do so against West Ham with only 39%. Clearly the two clubs play differing styles, but the common thread between the two games is the amount of shots Bournemouth allowed, over 10 per match.
As for the Foxes, despite allowing two goals against Liverpool that could have easily been avoided, Leicester dominated the game. They had 52% possession, completed 496 passes, and managed 5 of 12 shots on target. Largely, that was because of Kelechi Iheanacho coming off the bench in the second half and changing the tone. While the pains of missing Jamie Vardy were evident at times, Demarai Gray wasn’t the striker Leicester needed on the day.
Although he has as many goals as he does red cards, there is no doubt Vardy is going to be a huge part of what Leicester accomplish this season. His recent retirement from England means he got plenty of rest through his suspension and hopefully his groin is now fully healed.
Ben Chilwell made his senior England debut at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night and has impressed for Leicester this season, playing every minute of the Premier League so far to keep Christian Fuchs out of the side. He faces the tricky prospect of dealing with the likes of David Brooks and Ryan Fraser down the Bournemouth right, with Fraser already notching up a goal and an assist this term for the Cherries.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Bournemouth: Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Rico; Brooks, Surman, Gosling, Fraser; Wilson, King
Leicester: Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi, Mendy, Gray, Albrighton; Maddison; Vardy
Score Prediction: Bournemouth 2 Leicester 2
AFC Bournemouth have made a solid start to the new Premier League season. Given the club’s history and fanbase, it’s hardly ever a surprise that they are always included in pre-season discussions regarding potential relegation candidates, but Eddie Howe and his charges have blown past expectations and critics to remain in the top tier for a fourth consecutive season as they continue to consolidate themselves as a Premier League club.
Leicester City are out to put the pressure on for a spot in the Europa League this season after missing out to Burnley last year. The Clarets finished ahead of the Foxes in seventh place but were unable to reach the group stages having been knocked out in qualifying by Olympiakos. It’s fair to say that on paper, Leicester have the quality to take that seventh spot in the table, despite the summer sale of star man Riyad Mahrez.
Claude Puel’s men have endured a mixed bag of a start to the season. After a narrow defeat at the hands of Manchester United on the opening weekend, the Foxes did bounce back well to pick up wins over Wolves and Southampton, plus Jamie Vardy’s former club Fleetwood in the Carabao Cup. A defeat at home to Liverpool last time will have hurt but you can back the Midlands outfit to bounce back with at least a hard-fought goal scoring point here.