Premier League 18/19: Leicester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
An all-Midlands clash has the Foxes and the Wolves fighting tooth and claw for their respective first win of the season
15:00 BST, Saturday 18th August, King Power Stadium (Leicester, England)
Rumours have already begun circulating that Claude Puel is a man under pressure. A promising display against Manchester United ultimately counted for little after the result left them empty-handed and disappointed.
With only one victory from their last eight competitive matches and more worryingly, one win (D4, L2) from their previous seven home games in the league, Puel needs his team to start and find their feet now the honeymoon period is over.
Although Wolves also failed to win last weekend, Nuno Espírito Santo finds himself under no undue pressure at all.
Having delivered an impressive performance from their opening fixture, Wolves have a strong foundation to build from going into this game.
They may not have won at Leicester since 2007 but they are a club of ambition and they will want to assert themselves as top dogs in the Midlands on Saturday afternoon.
Last Time Out
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City (Premier League)
The Foxes once more opened the Premier League season with the Friday night billing but once again lost their opening match by a slender margin.
Leicester, though, got off to almost the worst possible start when Daniel Amartey, who struggled throughout in this match, conceded a penalty for handball in the second minute.
With Paul Pogba dispatching the spot-kick, the Foxes were left to chase the game, but they actually dominated for much of the match.
Finishing with more possession (54%) more shots taken (8 vs 13) and having produced the more pleasing football, it was their lack of goal threat which served to haunt them.
Kelechi Iheanacho failed to convert two gilt-edged chances before Jamie Vardy replaced him to score a consolation after his late introduction from the bench.
Elsewhere in the team, James Maddison made an eye-catching competitive debut for the club but the headlines told the all-too-familiar story for Foxes fans of three points dropped.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton (Premier League)
Wolves were made to pay for not pushing home their advantage to make this result feel more like two points dropped than one won.
The dismissal of Phil Jagielka at the end of the first half paved the way for the home side to strike the Toffees down, especially when Ruben Neves scored from the resulting free-kick to nullify Richarlison’s earlier strike.
With Wolves not forcing the tempo and playing with five defenders after the break, Everton became the dominant side and deservedly took the lead, again through their mercurial left winger.
As soon as they fell behind, Wolves stirred into action and levelled through a Raul Jimenez header before finishing as the stronger side. It begged the question of what could have been for the Midlands club who must show more bravery if fortune is to smile on them this season.
Leicester City Lineup
Claude Puel could be forgiven for not making too many changes to his side as they did perform rather well at Old Trafford last weekend.
That being said, Leicester have plenty of option to call upon and it would be no surprise to see them make at least two changes.
Matty James (Achilles) is thee only injury concern facing Puel ahead of this clash although he could choose to ring the changes in personnel much like he did throughout last season.
Jamie Vardy, Jonny Evans, Vicente Iborra and Marc Albrighton could all find themselves drafted into the team as the Foxes search for a winning formula.
Wolverhampton Wanderers Lineup
Wolves were surprisingly defensive against Everton last week, particularly since the Toffees were down to ten men for a large portion of the game.
That being said, there were plenty of positives with Neves and Jimenez shining throughout the game.
Ivan Cavaleiro (back) is unavailable for selection while new signing Adama Traoré is unlikely to start as he looks to fully recover from a shoulder injury.
With the starting XI from last weekend’s opening game all fit and ready, Nuno Espírito Santo could well name an unchanged lineup for this match.
Key Battle: Jamie Vardy (Leicester) vs Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
Goals win games and a large part of each club’s hopes will ride on the shoulders of their main striker this weekend.
Vardy is now an established Premier League striker having notched 57 league goals in his previous three seasons.
Already up and running this season, his pace and eye for goal will be a test for a Wolverhampton defence who failed to keep a handle on another pacey striker, Richarlison, last weekend.
There were several voices proclaiming that the forward position was the weakest area of the squad for Wolves heading into this season.
Mexico’s Jimenez enjoyed a dream debut with a goal that was fully deserved for his efforts at the tip of the Wolves attack.
With six goals and seven assists in the league for Benfica last season, the striker was directly involved in a goal every 74 minutes of playing time (973 minutes) and will be looking to translate that form into English football.
Sealing a safer future
After months of speculation regarding his future, Harry Maguire seems set to sign a new contract with the Foxes for a reported £75k per week.
While the Manchester United links in the media could have been a ploy to unsettle the defender ahead of the two clubs opening day encounter, there is little doubt that Maguire is undeserving of an improved deal with Leicester.
Not only did he become a cult figure for England this summer, Maguire more than proved his worth to the Foxes last season alongside an ailing and ageing Wes Morgan.
The 25-year-old central defender has all the characteristics of a future captain and at a price of £17m last summer, he was arguably the shrewdest signing of last summer. His commitment to the club will be music to the ears of Foxes fans.
Taming the Wolves
After shining bright in the Championship last season, many expected more of the same from Wolves this time around.
What the game against Everton showed, however, is that a more pragmatic approach can perhaps be expected instead.
Despite the quality offered by Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho in the centre of the pitch, it was Everton who dictated much of the game’s tempo during the first half last weekend.
Even after Wolves came back from the break with a man-advantage, they still failed to move the ball forward with speed or purpose.
While this is likely to differ depending upon the team they are playing, Nuno Espírito Santo appeared to prefer his side to play a relatively risk-free strategy which ironically bit them against Everton.
How this approach is tempered following last weekend’s result, remains to be seen.
Prediction: Leicester City 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
This game has all the makings of an open, exciting match but this doesn’t necessarily mean such a game will be delivered. Both sides are likely to be cautious of a defeat and they could essentially cancel each other out unless significant risks are taken.
Although a draw is not the result either side will want, especially for Leicester who are facing a newly promoted rival and are yet to register any league points, this could be the likeliest outcome from this fixture.
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