Separated by four points, Leicester and West Bromwich Albion face-off at the King Power Stadium under the lights on Monday night. It’s a Midlands derby of sorts, and a potentially significant match in the tenure of Craig Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Foxes have endured a tricky start to the campaign, but their five points from the opening seven matches is a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, West Brom have started in true Tony Pulis fashion. They sit 10th before the Premier League resumes, and have scored only six. It has been disappointing of late for the Baggies, however - Albion's last Premier League triumph was at Turf Moor back in August.
Pulis, though, is fortunate to have a fully fit squad to choose from. The former Stoke boss could name the same team that drew with Watford a fortnight ago, meaning the continuation of the formidable midfield pairing of Grzegorz Krychowiak and Gareth Barry.
Leicester, on the other hand, are going to be waiting on the fitness of midfielder Wilfried Ndidi and defender Ben Chilwell. Robert Huth and Matty James are confirmed absentees, meaning Wes Morgan will partner Harry Maguire at the heart of the hosts’ defence.
No West Brom player has found the net more than once this season, while Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki have scored five and three times respectively. Vardy is a threat, but will have minimal space to attack behind the Baggies’ defence.
Okazaki is – as he was during the title-winning season – the player that makes Leicester tick. He has started the season in fine form, and is at a tempting 11/2 to open the scoring.
Form gives little indication in this match away from Leicester’s front two. West Brom have only won one of their last 12 away from home, and Leicester have won only one of their last 10 in the Premier League.
With the aforementioned West Brom midfield and Leicester’s own industrious pairing, we can expect a physical, perhaps attritional encounter. Aerial balls towards Vardy’s surging runs will be Leicester’s go to move to catch the sluggish West Brom defence up the pitch, while the visitors will use Salomon Rondon as a target for long balls to bring their attacking midfielders into play.
Direct play has been effective for Leicester and West Brom in recent seasons, and it can make for an interesting match when you have two teams who thrive without the ball.
Given the nature of the two teams, cards are a guarantee. Gareth Barry and Daniel Amartey are the two favourites to go into the book, and understandably so. Their roles as midfield firefighters often leaves them in precarious positions, and can force the odd tactical foul.
A double on this pair to get booked is at 11/1 at the time of writing; you won’t find much better value than that this weekend.
West Brom’s dire record away from the Hawthorns – paired with their trouble in front of goal – makes Leicester natural favourites. With a partisan King Power crowd roaring every touch, the Foxes should squeak three points here to ease the pressure on Shakespeare.
TIP: Leicester to win 1-0 @ 11/2
* Odds subject to change