Leicester City

King Power Stadium

2pm, Sunday 12th December’21

Premiership 

Live on SKYSPORTS 

Following the euphoria after actually having won a competitive football match last weekend, it’s back on the road for Eddie and the lads, as we make the trek to the East Midlands this Sunday.

Our hosts, Leicester City are not having the most convincing of campaigns thus far.  They currently sit in 11th position, having only managed five wins and four draws from fifteen played.

It’s a strange one.  The King Power has only known good times in recent years, as the Foxes have firmly established themselves in the upper echelons of Premiership football; brilliantly bagging a League title and FA Cup along the way.  So, why are they struggling more now?

A glance at their fixtures/results certainly gives you a decent clue.  It’s a strong possibility that their participation in UEFA League football is a factor.  They’ve done reasonably well in the competition so far, but have had to suffer the headache of a Thursday/Sunday schedule; with long schleps East to the likes of Warsaw and Moscow.  Not good for the ageing limbs of prolific forward, Harold Steptoe.  Those with long memories will recall a time when such issues plagued Newcastle. Mr Ashley’s parsimony in the transfer market was ever an albatross, and it certainly didn’t aid our cause during those days.

As it happens, the Foxes must travel to and from Southern Italy this week, prior to locking horns with the Mags.  Their match with Napoli is crucial too, so I doubt that wee philosophical Brendan will be able to rest his better players. Result.

Another thing which leaps out whilst looking at the table, is their goals conceded column.  They’ve so far shipped 27 times. To put this into perspective, that’s only three better than our often creaking back line.  The foundation of their charge up the Premiership was built on the likes of gritty stopper, Wes Morgan.  From what I’ve witnessed, Çağlar Söyüncü doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, and I reckon a firing Callum may have half a chance this Sunday.

On to Eddie’s Mags….

Whilst we faced derision from many quarters due to a perceived lap of honour etc last Saturday; I don’t think the naysayers quite understand the importance of three points and a clean sheet.  Yes, there is still squad imbalance, defensive concern and a massive over reliance on our only proper striker, but (Arsenal away apart) it’s clear to see some definitive reaction to our current plight.

Eddie Howe has begun to install the professional standards prevalent at most Premiership clubs, and it appears obvious that the vast majority of the playing staff and support are right behind it.  The likes of Jonjo and big Jow, pretty much lame ducks until his arrival, are suddenly showing extra commitment and a desire to play for the shirt.  I’m trying not to get carried away, but until recently I think it’s fair to say that the inclusion of these two in a starting XI would only elicit a collective groan.  As it stands, I can’t imagine playing without them.

Forward momentum is a huge thing in sport.  We’ve had a lack of this precious commodity for such a long time; in fact a nonplussed, slowly dwindling support has certainly added to the difficulty of playing for Newcastle United.  I’m not saying we’re a ‘roller coaster’ but with everyone now pulling in the same direction, I’d like to think that Leicester will be in for a much tougher game than our lowly position suggests.

Prediction poncing

Towards the end of last season, a Joe Willock inspired Newcastle went to town at the King Power, eventually running out 4-2 winners.  It was a massive shock, and the bookies are relatively confident that the home side will prevail this weekend.  I’m not so sure.  I reckon a mixture of Euro travel and a tough fixture v Serie A legends coupled with somewhat dodgy form gives us more than a sniff.

In any normal campaign, we’d probably have this down as a ‘free hit’ match.  Unfortunately, having wasted loads of chips on lesser opposition, this is no longer a luxury we can afford.  As touched upon earlier, we are more organised and belligerent these days. I reckon a win may be stretching it, given some of the class they can employ up top (Vardy, Iheanacho and erm Ayoze) but I fancy a point this Sunday and am plumping for 2-2*.

Safe journey to those travelling.  And, sing your hearts out for the lads. I know you will.

Nick Clark – @Clark5Nick 

*Disclaimer. 

 Whatever you do, do not be tempted to add my score prediction on to your betting slip.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know by now that I’m absolutely cack at getting NUFC scores correct.