Premier League 17/18 Week 34: Burnley vs Leicester City – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Foxes travel to Burnley in need of a win if they’re to have any realistic chance of a 7th-placed finish
15:00 BST, Saturday 14th April, Turf Moor (Burnley, England)
Burnley have recorded 4 successive victories to reverse their downturn of form in spectacular fashion. This run of results has seen Sean Dyche’s side push 6 points ahead of 8th-placed Leicester and greatly increased their chances of representing the Premier League in Europe next season. Having defeated Watford last weekend, a win over Leicester on Saturday would leave little doubt that Burnley are deserving of the title best of the rest this season outside the big-six.
Challenging them for this crown, Leicester have brushed off their early-season disappointment to climb assuredly into the top half of the table. Despite a setback against Newcastle last Saturday, the Foxes can claim a third consecutive away win from this match which would put them in good contention for a further climb before the season’s end.
Last Time Out
Watford 1-2 Burnley (Premier League)
The Clarets came out on top in this mid-table battle to keep them well on course for some Europa League action next season. Sean Dyche’s side had to do it the hard way too after falling behind to a 61st-minute strike from a determined Hornets side.
Nick Pope proved his manager right to choose him ahead of fit-again Tom Heaton in goal, making a string of important saves which further endorsed his blossoming credentials. While he may have been disappointed with conceding a goal to Roberto Pereyra, he made two fine saves against the same player during the first half and showed great command in the air during the latter stages when Watford piled on the pressure.
Dyche’s decision to bring Sam Vokes from the bench also proved inspired as the striker scored to level the game within 22 seconds of taking the field. A rare goal from Jack Cork 3 minutes later tipped the game on its head and was enough for Burnley to claim a ruthlessly taken victory against a team whose main strength lately has lain in their home form.
Leicester City 1-2 Newcastle United (Premier League)
The Foxes were well beaten by a Newcastle side who simply wanted the victory more than the hosts. The Magpies began as they meant to go on and took an early lead when Jonjo Shelvey’s shot was deflected off Ben Chilwell to deceive Kasper Schmeichel in the Foxes goal. It could have been level at halftime if the referee had awarded a penalty for Riyad Mahrez, however, minimal contact on the Algerian left the referee declining Leicester protests.
Another major talking point from the game saw Harry Maguire go unpunished for putting his hand in Dwight Gayle’s face but while some argued it should have brought the England defender a red card, Gayle appeared to be the main instigator in the situation and Maguire was only guilty of having a distinct height advantage over the Newcastle striker. Leicester pulled a goal back through Jamie Vardy after falling further behind but they could not build on his effort and left the pitch beaten at home in the league for the first time in 2018.
Ben Mee (shin) will again miss out along with Steven Defour (knee) Scott Arfield (calf) Robbie Brady (knee) and Jonathan Walters (knee) who all have long-term injuries. Georges-Kévin Nkoudou (knee) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (calf) are also doubts which will limit Dyche’s options on the wings and could see in-form Ashley Barnes used on the left wing rather than as a striker.
Leicester City Lineup
Wilfred Ndidi (suspended) Daniel Amartey (hamstring) and Matty James (Achilles) are joined on the sidelines by Vicente Iborra who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. This is likely to see Hamza Choudhury make his first senior start in the top-flight as the Foxes midfield enforcer.
Key Battle: Nick Pope (Burnley) vs Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Two players hoping to play a major part in Russia this summer could play a major part in deciding the result. Pope produced yet another top performance for the Clarets last weekend, providing his defence with confidence as he claimed dangerous balls in addition to some smart saves. Likely to again keep Heaton out of the starting line-up, next season will provide a huge choice for Dyche on this evidence.
Looking to break the number 1’s resistance is a striker who has notched 7 goals in his last 9 Premier League appearances. Vardy has quietly clicked into top gear at the right stage of the season and will look to continue his run of form against a Burnley side well known for their mean defence.
Best since ‘68
Given little chance of attaining Premier League survival last summer, Burnley have proven their critics wrong in emphatic fashion. While their start to the season provided a sturdy platform for them to be where they are now, their recent form, the 5th best in the league over the previous 8 matches, has shown this was far more than a lucky run.
A fifth successive league victory this weekend would see the Clarets record their best run of results in top-flight football since the end of 1968. Having last been in European competition in 1966 and won the top-flight title (for the second time in the club’s history) in 1960, there are still many records left for the Clarets to emulate given their rich heritage.
Claude Puel has played down reports of disharmony amongst his squad this week and now has the perfect opportunity to prove his side are heading in the right direction. Accusations of a lack of focus during training and random acts of team selection have reportedly left many of the club’s higher-profile players frustrated during the recent dip of form Leicester have suffered.
The lack of tempo and determination to their game was highlighted against Newcastle as a reason for this, however, the Magpies displayed a much higher than average dose of these qualities last weekend which would have left most club’s looking second-best in this department. In trying to make his own Leicester omelette, Puel will need to crack eggs as he tries to change the style of play which the Foxes have become rooted in. Whether the club have the patience to stick with this plan in the long-term remains to be seen though.
Prediction: Burnley 2-2 Leicester City
Both teams have shown themselves capable of scoring goals in recent weeks and this fixture could well produce more goals than many expect of it. Burnley are on a tremendous run of form which has seen Dyche awarded manager of the month for March, however, Leicester should bounce back after last weekend’s disappointment and provide a gripping game for the neutral.