Premier League: Leicester v Southampton

After 17 games, Brendan Rodgers finds his side slap bang in the middle of a title race no one seems to want to run away with, as the Foxes sit four points behind leaders Manchester United. And when United take on Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, a win could see Leicester just a point off top spot come Monday morning.

Perhaps it’s a blessing that no one seems to be talking about Leicester as potential title challengers, just as they didn’t in 2016 when Claudio Ranieri’s side pulled off the ultimate fairy tale by winning the lot.

Fast forward five years and there are still a few players that are still around from that team, with Kasper Schmeichel and Jamie Vardy still as important as ever. The Danish goalkeeper will make his 400th competitive appearance for the club on Saturday.

Speaking of the past, it’s hard to preview this game without mentioning what happened last season when these two sides met, when Leicester ran out 9-0 winners at St Mary’s, with Ayoze Perez and Vardy both scoring hat-tricks.

However, since that landmark moment, Southampton have been a different animal, and a similar score line is almost impossible to expect a repeat of. Ralph Hassenhuttl’s philosophy has been adopted by every member of the Saints squad, and they now look like a solid Premier League side capable of beating anyone on their day.

If they’re to get anything at Leicester on Saturday though, they’ll have to do so without Danny Ings, who is self-isolating after coming into contact with a COVID positive person recently. Jannik Vestergaard is out with a knee injury, while Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond are also definitely missing.

Promising youngster Nathan Tella is also out, as is Michael Obafemi, who has undergone surgery on a muscle issue. There is some good news for the Saints though, as Alex McCarthy is back after missing the win over Liverpool, and Oriol Romeu and Che Adams should also be available.

Leicester have a much shorter injury list by comparison, with only Dennis Praet definitely out with a hamstring injury which requires surgery. The Belgian suffered the problem in the 4-0 win over Stoke City last weekend, a game in which James Maddison and Jamie Vardy weren’t risked with slight knocks.

The pair will be back for the visit of Southampton though, and both Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu could also make the matchday squad, although both aren’t fully fit after injury. Soyuncu’s fellow Turk Cengiz Under should also be involved after an ankle problem.

Leicester take on Southampton at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, January 16th. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Leicester City’s Ricardo Pereira injured again

The Portuguese right-back returned from a nine-month absence with knee ligament damage against Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday.

However, he had to be substituted at half time in Ukraine after complaining of a groin problem.

Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers provided an update on the 27-year-old, and fellow defender Caglar Soyuncu, following his side’s 2-1 win at Sheffield United in the Premier League on Sunday.

“Ricky has a slight, not a serious, issue with his groin, but probably one that will keep him out for 10 days to two weeks,” said Rodgers.

“It was unfortunate. The surface was very slippy and he’s just aggravated his groin, but hopefully it won’t be too long.”

Soyuncu also suffered a groin injury in Ukraine last week on his comeback. The Turkey international’s return from injury lasted just 16 minutes before he had to be replaced.

Rodgers said scans have shown that the recurrence of the groin problem that had sidelined him since October is not as bad as initially feared, but he did not put a time scale on the 24-year-old’s absence.

“Cags, it’s too early for him to come in, but thankfully it’s not as bad as we first thought,” said the Foxes boss.

“He’ll be out with the medical team next week, and we’ll monitor that, but hopefully it won’t be too long.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers was relieved to avoid an unwanted record at Bramall Lane on Sunday, where Jamie Vardy’s 90th-minute strike saw Leicester return to winning ways.

The Foxes were on the brink of a fifth straight match without a victory, which would have equalled the club’s longest streak without a win since Rodgers took charge in February 2019.

“It was very important for us that we won. It might be the longest period since I’ve been here that we haven’t won, but if not it’s certainly felt the longest. We haven’t performed so well (of late),” said Rodgers.

“It is important we are not used to losing. I’m delighted. After a tough week of travel, it’s a fantastic win for us.”

Sunday’s late defeat was a huge body blow for Sheffield United, who now have the ignominy of having made the worst ever start to a Premier League season.

A 10th defeat in 11 matches left Blades boss Chris Wilder visibly hurt, he said: “It’s one of the hardest periods I’ve been through in my managerial career because of my connection to this football club and we just want to get through it.

“Am I being a counsellor as much as a manager? Yes, it seems that way because we are trying to keep spirits high and people positive.

“These players have swum the channel to get this club in the position it is in. So I’m not going to smash them over the head. I support them.”

Premier League Preview: Leicester City v Fulham

The Foxes are still in a strong position in the opening weeks of the campaign, but that defeat will have dented some confidence in their side.

However, Rodgers could stick by his players, and name an unchanged side this weekend, with Ricardo Pereira, Timothy Castagne and Wilf Ndidi all still sidelined.

Turkish international Cengiz Under impressed off the bench at Liverpool and he could be one potential change, if Rodgers opts to rest Marc Albrighton.

For Fulham, things don’t get any easier for under fire boss Scott Parker, with no away wins so far this season ahead of the trip to Leicester.

But with his options limited by a struggling squad, he is also set for minor changes with Aleksandr Mitrovic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both set to start.

And it’ll be a 5.15pm kick on Monday night at the King Power Stadium

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v Leicester City

Jurgen Klopp is already without both of his first-choice centre backs after Joe Gomez joined Virgil Van Dijk on the sidelines.

Skipper Jordan Henderson is also out, after picking up a groin injury on international duty, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and
Mo Salah also missing from a depleted Reds side.

James Milner is expected to fill in for Trent at right back, with Fabinho moving back into defence in place of Gomez.

However, despite the mounting injury list for Klopp, Thiago Alcantara and Andy Robertson have both been passed fit to return.

For the Foxes, Rodgers also has issues in defence, with right backs Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne ruled out.

Wesley Fofana should be OK to start at centre back, meaning Rodgers could name an unchanged starting line up from their win against Wolves last time out.

And it’s all set up for a 7.15pm kick off tomorrow night at Anfield.

Mixed fortunes on injury front for Leicester

The good news is that influential full back Ricardo Pereira appears close to a first team return.

Speaking to Portuguese sports outlet O Jogo, Pereira – who has been out since March with knee ligament damage – claims he is hoping to be back training again within the next two weeks, and back playing competitively within six.

As for the bad news, that also comes at the back for the Foxes, as Caglar Soyuncu’s injury setback looks to be worse than initially feared.

The Turkey defender has been a key component in Leicester’s success over the last 18 months, but he may have to wait until 2021 before he plays his next competitive game.

Foxes gaffer Brendan Rodgers has revealed the 24-year-old has a groin injury in which the “muscle is right off the bone”, with the expected timeframe for recovery around 3 months.

That means the centre back will miss the group stages of Leicester’s Europa League campaign, no doubt a damaging blow to their chances.

Premier League: Leicester City vs Aston Villa

If Villa can make it four wins from four and Everton lose to Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime, Dean Smith’s side could be top of the league come Monday morning, which would cap off an incredible start to the season.

They’ll be full of confidence after smashing seven past Liverpool last time out, but face a Leicester side who will be trying to bounce back from a heavy defeat of their own, after the lost to West Ham before the international break.

The Foxes have injury worries to deal with though, as Wilfried Ndidi, Caglar Soyuncu, Ricardo Pereira, Daniel Amartey and Filip Benkovic are all missing. There’s also a major doubt over Jamie Vardy, who will have a scan after suffering a calf injury in training.

Dennis Praet and Jonny Evans are also rated at 50/50, but James Maddison should make it after feeling tightness in his calf after the win over Manchester City. Cengiz Under could make his first start for the club since joining from Roma on loan, and Wesley Fofana is expected to make his debut.

There are no new injury concerns for Aston Villa, who will be without Tom Heaton and Wesley. The pair uploaded a picture to social media on Friday confirming that they are close to a return, but it won’t be this weekend. Bjorn Engels is back in contention after an injury of his own, but Kortney Hause is a doubt with a knock.

Leicester City take on Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, October 18th. Kick-off is at 7.15pm.

Leicester City host Manchester United in Top Four showdown

The Foxes have had a turbulent restart, with a dip in form coinciding with them losing their cushion in the top 4.

The same cannot be said for Manchester United however, who have been in brilliant form – with their only defeat in the last 20 games in all competitions coming in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.

That momentum has seen United break in to the top 4 for the first time since September – but they will only stay there if they avoid defeat to Leicester on Sunday.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter, with both sides knowing a draw, plus a Chelsea defeat against Wolves, will see both clubs finishing in the top 4.

Brendan Rodgers is without six first team stars however, ahead of is undoubtedly their biggest game of the season.

Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison, Christian Fuchs and Ben Chilwell all miss out with injury, whilst Caglar Soyuncu suspended.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has injury issues of his own, with United short on defensive options.

Eric Bailly is sidelined after a clash of heads with Harry Maguire against Chelsea.

Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are also missing, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah potentially coming in to start.

Luke Shaw is rated 50-50 to play, after failing to shake off an ankle knock he picked up against former club Southampton.

Leicester City v Manchester United at the King Power Stadium is a 4pm kick off on Sunday, July 26.

Leicester City v Sheffield United: Big clash in battle for Europe

Leicester will be looking to make amends for a turgid display at Bournemouth last time out, which saw them lose 4-1 to the relegation-threatened Cherries.

That defeat loosened their grip on a top 4 berth, with the Foxes now clinging on to the Champions League places by their fingernails.

Pressure manifests itself for Leicester in the form of 5th placed Manchester United, who are level on points and take on out-of-form Crystal Palace later in the evening.

Leicester’s opponents arrive in the form of a rejuvenated Sheffield United, who are still firmly in the hunt for a Europa League berth, despite a turbulent spell of results post-restart.

Chris Wilder has steered the Blades back on track since then, however, and will be looking for a second consecutive victory against teams in the top 4 after his side dispatched Chelsea 3-0 last time out.

There will be plenty of eyes on this one from across the Premier League, with almost the entire top half of the table subject to a possible reshuffle by close of play.

The Blades could end up as high as 6th with victory at the King Power, whereas a much needed 3 points for Leicester will see them trim the gap to 3rd placed Chelsea to just a point.

Sheffield United travel to the East Midlands still sweating on the fitness of John Fleck, who hasn’t featured in any of the Blades’ last 4 games due to injury.

Chris Wilder will also be without the sidelined Luke Freeman and Leon Clarke.

David McGoldrick achieved a childhood dream against Chelsea by bagging a Premier League goal – the brace against the Blues the first top flight strikes of his career – he’ll be looking to score in consecutive games for the first time since January 2019.

Brendan Rodgers will see out the rest of the Premier League season without defender Caglar Soyuncu at his disposal – the impressive centre back is suspended after being shown a red card at Bournemouth for an unnecessary kick out at Callum Wilson.

With games against Spurs and Manchester United still to come, the Turkey international’s absence could be damaging.

Soyuncu’s unavailability leaves holes across the Foxes back-line, with Ricardo Pereira out for the season, and Ben Chilwell said to be touch-and-go to feature.

Jonny Evans is likely to partner on-loan Ryan Bennett at the heart of the Leicester defence.

James Maddison is pushing for inclusion as he steps up his recovery from injury, but Daniel Amartey is definitely out.

Leicester City v Sheffield United is a 6pm kick off on Thursday, July 16.