With a decision expected in a matter of days as to Craig Shakespeare’s potential full-time appointment as the Leicester manager, the Foxes have quietly slipped into a period that has seen them suffer four league defeats in seven games. While there was much praise and euphoria quite rightly sweeping across the club during Shakespeare’s amazing introduction into the Leicester hot-seat, he has started to find the job more difficult than it originally seemed and his demeanour has already become more sombre following the club’s biggest home defeat in thirteen years. It is of course not all bad news for the Foxes who could well be in a much worse position following a near-traumatic season, but having regained some of their sparkle they once again look vulnerable as teams no longer fear playing them like they once did.
A manager with a much brighter future assured is Eddie Howe after he has successfully avoided the tricky third season that often seems to afflict teams joining the Premier League. Having built on the Cherries achievements of last year, Howe has seen his side climb to the highest finish in their 118 year history. Bournemouth also have the look of a confident team again having won three of the last four and scored nine goals along the way although with only three away wins to their name this season, a journey to Leicester may prove more troublesome for them than they would like as they’re definitely a team who prefer their home comforts.
LAST TIME OUT
LEICESTER CITY 1 – 6 Tottenham
The Foxes received a reality check after Spurs ruthlessly destroyed them on their own turf to expose the Foxes main weakness. With Wes Morgan having now missed the last two months through injury, the Foxes defensive frailties which have blighted their campaign were once again highlighted. Tottenham were winning every 50-50 ball in the early stages of this non-contest and Leicester were looking nervous at the back as Spurs looked for an early opening. While the first goal didn’t arrive until Harry Kane found the net in the 25th minute, it was preceded by an ominous feel to the match and Heung-min Son doubled the lead soon after to give Spurs a 2-0 lead into the break which could have been more. Leicester came out for the second half showing much more energy and intent in their pressing of Spurs play and when Ben Chilwell pulled a goal back in the 59th minute it looked like Tottenham may come to regret their wastefulness earlier in the match. Unfortunately for the Foxes, Kane was on fire as he scored in the 63rd minute before setting up Son’s second in the 70th, then scoring twice in the closing stages to wrap the game up tightly for the visitors.
BOURNEMOUTH 2 – 1 Burnley
The Cherries came out on top as they scored late in a competitive game to give them a deserved victory. Despite a rip-roaring start to the match by both teams, it took 25 minutes for the game’s first shot on target to arrive. It was worth the wait for the Bournemouth fans though as Junior Stanislas out-sprinted the Burnley defence and placed the ball beyond the reach of Tom Heaton and into the bottom corner of the net to give his side the lead. With Lys Mousset looking short of confidence and quality up front for the Cherries, Bournemouth were finding it hard to create any chances of note against a determined Burnley back line, although Joshua King’s 66th minute strike could easily have found the inside of the net rather than the side netting when he shot from a tight angle. As such, it looked troublesome when Sam Vokes diverted Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s cross into the goal in the 83rd minute to pull Burnley level but King was on hand two minutes later to fire the Cherries back in front with what proved to be the winning goal.
Leicester City Lineup
Wes Morgan (back) Nampalys Mendy (knee) Molla Wague (shoulder) and Danny Drinkwater (thigh) will be unavailable for the Foxes who could also be without Robert Huth (foot) although Andy King is expected to return for their final match.
Jack Wilshere (leg), Benik Afobe (hamstring) and Callum Wilson (knee) all remain out of the action while Benik Afobe (hamstring) is also expected to remain sidelined for the Cherries while Lewis Cook is unavailable after being called up for the England under-20’s World Cup preparations for this summer.
A change for the better
Much of the talk for Leicester prior to this game has been about the changes which are required to progress for next season. With several stars expected to leave following their pledge at the end of last season to remain with the club for one more season, to a caretaker manager who could be moved aside, or even just the design of the shirt or the stripes on the pitch, everything is up for renewal in these times of change. With the present of a greater concern to the club’s fans having just watched their side bomb against Spurs, these are indeed interesting times for a club that has lead a very interesting life in the Premiership of late.
Pride vs fall
With both teams almost tied together in the very centre of the table, 10th take on 11th in their final game of the season with the winner of this fixture assuring themselves of a top-half finish. The Cherries have steadily climbed the league recently claw themselves into the top half, they will not want to relinquish their grip on a monumental achievement for the club while the Foxes have already suffered a fall from grace in almost spectacular fashion and are ready once more to give their suffering fans something to be proud of. With speculation also surrounding both teams as to what transfers the summer will bring, this will be a final chance for the current crop of players at both teams to show what they’re currently capable of and leave the future to take care of itself.
The King off Bournemouth
Joshua King has had a second half to the season which has been nothing short of phenomenal. The £1m signing from Blackburn has been the biggest catalyst for an improved Cherries team this year and although transfer speculation and player comments should always be taken with a pinch of salt, the early signals from King look promising for Bournemouth fans. The Norwegian admits to enjoying his time with the club and is rumoured to want to reject the advances of a number of clubs in favour of an extended stay on the South coast. The real question will be whether or not he is able to repeat his success next season, whichever shirt he finds himself wearing.
PREDICTION: Leicester City 1 – 3 Bournemouth
This season’s exploits appear to have eventually caught up with Leicester, again. With a relatively small squad and the extra games which a run in the Champions League took its toll on, many of the Foxes players are looking like they’re in need of a lie down in a darkened room, although a trip to a tropical climate is a more probable destination for many of them. Bournemouth meanwhile are looking refreshed after turning around their poor form from earlier this calendar year and are a team playing with confidence that underlines the belief which Eddie Howe has instilled into his team. While they generally don’t get results away from home, they could well be ripe to take advantage of an exhausted Leicester squad to end their best-ever season on a high note by defeating last year’s Premier League champions.
Will Leicester end their title defence with a whimper? Give us your prediction in the comments section below.