Leicester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Venue: King Power Stadium
Referee: Mike Dean
Wolverhampton Wanderers will make the short trip across the Midlands, roughly 55 miles this Saturday, as the Foxes play host to the Wolves with both teams looking to stamp their mark on this years Premier League campaign.
Saturdays fixture will be the first time the two have met since January 2013 where the Foxes ran out 2-1 victors in the Championship. Fortunes have been rather different for either side since, and changes have been evident in abundance.
Both sides may count themselves unfortunate to not leave their opening fixtures with a more satisfactory result. Leicester kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford with Wolves opening their return to the league with a 2-2 draw at home to the Toffees. Wolves spent all of the second half against 10 men and if it wasn’t for a spectacular Ruben Neves effort to put them level, it could have been a bitter start for Nuno Santo’s side. As for Leicester, their performance was at best worthy of a point. Puel’s side dominated possession and attempts and if it wasn’t for a speculative early penalty for Mourinho’s side, it could have been a different story.
Despite the defeat, Puel without doubt will have taken positives from the fixture at Old Trafford, particularly the above par performances from two new signings, James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira. The aforementioned looked extremely relaxed in possession and to on-watchers, he seemed a player who had been plying his trade in the Premier League for years. Puel will also be eased with the thought of his relied upon striker, Vardy, getting off the mark early on in the campaign. In contrast, Wolves put on a gutsy performance vs Everton. Richarlison perhaps gave Santo’s side a glimpse of Premier League magic but it’s clear Wolves possess the individuals to perform at the highest level and the West Midlands side will without doubt be an exciting proposition this campaign.
Leicester: The Foxes have not been hit with any major injury concerns after the opener last Friday night, which is presenting Puel with a rather difficult selection dilemma. Jonny Evans is set to return from injury but will likely miss out to the club captain, Wes Morgan, and Harry Maguire in the centre. Yet if called upon, the summer signing will certainly provide experience and stability in a defensive line which will definitely be tested against the newcomers.
With Vardy a certainty to come straight back into the starting XI, someone as a result will be at the brunt of his selection. I expect Amartey may be dropped to the bench with Pereira filling in at his natural right-back position, instead of higher up the field like against United. If this was to be the case it would leave Maddison to drop back into the wing and Iheanacho and Vardy to lead the line. Gray did defy a muscular injury to begin the match at Old Trafford, and although his performance was a satisfactory one last Friday night, it would be no surprise to see him drop to the bench. If this was to be the case, a host of players could take his place on the wing. Albrighton, who has been so consistent for the Foxes, could be recalled with Diabate another option for Puel. Summer signing, Rachid Ghezzal, who had his first taste of English football in Manchester, is another option for the manager.
There is also a question of who begins in the middle for the Foxes. Despite Nampalys Mendy and Matty James being absent due to injury, Puel still has a selection of four for the trip of Wolves. Ndidi will be a certainty in the middle which leaves the choice of Silva, Iborra or Andy King. Silva was the choice of Puel in Manchester but it would be no surprise to see Iborra or King chosen with all three providing very similar playing style.
Wingers Ivan Cavalerio and summer signing Adama Traore are both minor doubts for the upcoming fixture vs Leicester. The latter, who missed the opening fixture vs Everton, is believed to be suffering with a shoulder injury yet may see past this to make the squad on Saturday afternoon. As for Cavalerio, he is struggling with a back injury, and will likely be absent from the fixture.
Apart from Cavalerio and Adama, Santo will have a full selection of players at the King Power. Despite this, after the professional display put on at Molineux last weekend, there will be minimal changes to the side. Rui Patricio will be given the task of keeping Vardy quiet and with a wing-back approach taken by Wolves, Leicester’s number nine will look to exploit the wings and find a way in on goal. Moutinho and Neves will once again provide the stability in the middle of the park, with the mix of experience and youth looking to be an admirable option for Santo’s this season.
The front three of Costa, Jimenez and Jota will be looking to provide the firepower once more and will be trying to get Wolves away campaign off to a flyer. In their previous eight Premier League fixtures, Leicester have shipped 19 goals and Wolves will look to exploit this figure and enforce more misery on Leicester’s back line which Santo has no doubt been studying.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Leicester: Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Gray, Silva, Ndidi, Maddison; Iheanacho, Vardy
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Joao Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Helder Costa, Jiminez, Jota
Prediction: Leicester City 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
With Puel already under pressure at the King Power, he needs his side to perform and stand up and be counted. Last season Leicester won four of their six games against promoted sides, with this in mind, I expect Leicester to pick Wolves off, although it will not come as easy as Puel and his side might hope.