Premier League 17/18: Leicester City vs Swansea City -Lineups, Preview and Prediction
City’s collide as the relegation-threatened Swans look to continue their amazing run of form by outsmarting the Foxes
15:00 GMT, Saturday 3rd February, King Power Stadium (Leicester, England)
Leicester’s six-game unbeaten run came to an end on Wednesday with their first defeat of the year, cutting short their mini-revival following a tricky December.
They look highly likely to be without their mercurial midfielder for this clash, with Riyad Mahrez having failed to climb the steps of the team bus on Wednesday and then since lost his way to the training ground.
Swansea’s revival has become the stuff of fairy-tales for new manager Carlos Carvalhal. Having picked up 10 points from a possible 15 since his arrival, Swansea have been lifted from the foot of the table.
Furthermore, they’re a team who are still improving having won both of their previous league games which were at home to teams from the top six. Their next target will be to escape the relegation zone and another win this weekend should see them achieve this.
Last Time Out
Everton2-1 Leicester City (Premier League)
Leicester missed the opportunity to jump into 7th position after a woeful display saw them deservedly beaten by the Toffees.
Ben Chilwell had a torrid night in facing a re-energised Theo Walcott who was brimming with confidence. Having played well in previous matches, Chilwell can grow from this experience in which his mistakes played a part in both Everton goals.
While few of the midfielders who started this match could leave with their heads held high, there were particularly poor displays by the two attacking wide men. While rumours of a possible transfer could have inadvertently affected Marc Albrighton, Demarai Gray simply appeared bereft of all confidence having hit a bad run of form through January.
There was almost a reprieve for the Foxes which began from the penalty spot after Wayne Rooney was penalised for grappling with Wilfred Ndidi. Following Jamie Vardy’s cool conversion, substitute Kelechi Iheanacho twice hit the woodwork in the closing stages. However, Vardy’s goal was little more than a consolation.
Swansea City 3-1 Arsenal (Premier League)
Carlos Carvalhal lifted the Swans to new heights with a memorable win over the Gunners which continues to breathe life into their survival hopes. If any of the Swansea fans thought that victory over Liverpool was as good as it could get under Carlos Carvalhal, the victory over Arsenal in the following game has swiftly proven them wrong.
Where the Liverpool win was carved out of a determined defence and a snatched goal, this game was won through tenacity and a greater hunger for adventurous play than their opponents.
After Kyle Naughton lost Nacho Monreal which allowed the left-back to latch onto a fine pass and open the scoring, Swansea replied immediately. Sustained pressure then led to two critical mistakes in the Arsenal defence which were fully taken advantage of.
While each of the Swansea players deserved credit, Alfie Mawson, Sam Clucas and Jordan Ayew all dazzled for the home side who ran out comfortable winners in a match many expected them to lose.
Leicester City Lineup
Wes Morgan (hamstring) is the only injury concern for Puel ahead of this match which should see Aleksandar Dragovic play for the fourth successive league match.
There could be several alterations made to the team who started on Wednesday which could include a first start for new signing, Fousseni Diabaté.
Swansea City Lineup
Renato Sanches remains unavailable with a hamstring injury picked up against Wolves in the FA Cup.
New signing André Ayew could also miss out of selection having carried a small hamstring strain over the last two weeks while fellow new recruit Andy King is ineligible being that he’s on loan from this weekend’s opponents.
This is all likely to lead to an unchanged team from the side which defeated both Arsenal and Liverpool within the last two weeks.
Key Battle: Fousseni Diabaté (Leicester City) vs Alfie Mawson (Swansea City)
While he’s not guaranteed to start in this weekend’s game, it will surely not be long until Diabaté begins a Premier League match for his new club.
Having shone against Peterborough in the 5-1 FA Cup win last weekend, he made an exciting cameo against Everton to breathe some life into a drab Leicester performance.
While some people have already become overly excited and claimed he’s good enough to replace Mahrez in the team, he has certainly shown promise and can bring an energy to the side which was notable by its absence on Merseyside before his 58th-minute introduction.
Mawson was recently linked with a move away from the Swans, however, rather than question his future he appears to have redoubled his loyalty with the Welsh club.
Not only has the centre-back been a commanding figure at the heart of their defence, he also scored against Liverpool and provided an assist against Arsenal.
Having scored in each of his two previous encounters with Leicester. He could once more prove to be a leader at both ends of the pitch for the resurgent side.
Lost in thoughts
Following the game between Leicester and Everton on Wednesday evening, Sam Allardyce was quick to complain about having to play a game on the day that the transfer window was closing.
His view that several of his players were distracted by the surrounding speculation and agent interventions had made a detrimental effect on his preparations for the game.
This also seemed to be a major problem for the Foxes.
With the King Power Stadium a hive of activity, 10 players eventually left the club on loan last month while both Kelechi Iheanacho and Riyad Mahrez were demanding moves from the club. With Mahrez still not back in training, this is a worrying state of affairs for all involved with the club.
Further to all of this, Leicester’s performance on the pitch was unusually low in quality during the game. Only four of the starting eleven players managed to finish with a passing accuracy of more than 80%, three of which were defenders along with the defensive anchor, Matty James.
It’s as if several of them had their thoughts on other matters.
A confidence game
While most teams gain a jump in form when they bring a new manager into the club, few can have experienced an impact as dramatic as what Swansea are currently going through.
Having built on the confidence which started to germinate through the beginning of January, the Liverpool result was testimony to how Carvalhal’s players were already believing in both him and themselves.
Against Arsenal on Tuesday, Swansea had the look of a completely different side to the one which ended 2017. Gone are the nervous midfielders who were afraid of passing forwards through fear of making a mistake.
In their place are players who now play collectively rather than fearing their own personal failure and much of this can be attributed to Carvalhal’s bounding energy and positivity which has reverberated around the inner workings of the club.
Prediction: Leicester City 2-2 Swansea City
Claude Puel faces a testing weekend in that his preparations are being heavily knocked by squad problems currently outside of his control.
Swansea will come into this game on a high following their recent results and the Foxes will need to be fully focused if they’re to get a good result.
With form for bleeding young players into his team, Puel could resort to using younger players to provide more energy and enthusiasm, however, this match looks certain to be a closely fought fixture.