15:00 KO (BST); Saturday 30th September; Vitality Stadium (Bournemouth, England)
With only a single win from the opening six Premier League games, the Cherries are finding it hard to get a foothold in the table this season.
A lethargic start saw Bournemouth lose the first four fixtures and although their displays have been slowly improving, they’re still a long way short of the form which they were in at the end of last season.
Having never been beaten in the Premier League by Leicester, this record is now looking under threat unless they can find the fight and quality which has kept them in the top-flight for the last two years.
Leicester find themselves only one point better off than their opponents after they too have suffered a start that’s fallen below expectations. Having also won only one of their opening fixtures, coincidently, it also being a home game against Brighton, Craig Shakespeare finds himself in a similar predicament to the position Claudio Ranieri was facing this time last year.
While the Tinkerman lost his job against most fans’ wishes, it surely can’t be too much longer before Shakespeare finds his position being questioned unless his team moves up the table.
Last time out
Everton 2 – 1 BOURNEMOUTH [Premier League]
There was a familiar feel for Bournemouth fans when a promising display subsided to leave them staring at another defeat after being unable to control the game when in the lead.
Eddie Howe addressed another of Bournemouth’s biggest problems of the season so far by starting this game with two fast and tricky wingers. In Jordon Ibe and Junior Stanislas, the Cherries had an outlet to turn defence into attack on either side of the pitch and it looked at first like it would work well for the Cherries.
When Charlie Daniels made an overlap which provided the assist at the start of the second half for Josh King, Bournemouth were the superior team.
They should have extended this lead soon after only for Jermain Defoe to be denied by his ex-Sunderland teammate, Jordan Pickford, however, Oumar Niasse rose from the Everton bench to alter the game’s fate as once more Bournemouth could not keep a clean sheet.
LEICESTER CITY 2 – 3 Liverpool [Premier League]
In the teams’ second meeting in five days, Leicester could not repeat their efforts following a Carabao Cup win earlier in the week.
An entertaining clash saw Shinji Okazaki score again for the Foxes, with a goal just before the break which provided a ray of hope they could get back into a game which Liverpool had been dominating until that point.
When Jamie Vardy won a late penalty after he had again reduced the scoreline to a one-goal deficit it appeared Leicester would salvage a draw, however, a weak shot down the centre of the goal left the Foxes empty-handed.
Vardy was the home side’s brightest spark throughout the early evening match, seeing one of his shots on goal blocked, but the other four all were all on target and forced Mignolet into action.
With Islam Slimani replacing Marc Albrighton for the final 10 minutes, Vardy was moved out onto the right wing in place of Albrighton which also coincided with the Foxes’ lack of chances and energy as the game flittered out to finish in defeat.
Tyrone Mings (back) and Callum Wilson (knee) are the main injury worries for Eddie Howe, although Harry Arter could also miss out this weekend due to a slight Achilles problem.
Robert Huth (knock) and Matty James (Achilles) are both ruled out for the Foxes while Jamie Vardy is likely to play despite an ongoing hip problem that has seen him ruled out of the England squad set to play their remaining World Cup qualifiers next week.
The biggest decision for Shakespeare looks to be whether to stick with the promising youngster Ben Chilwell at left-back or return fit-again Christian Fuchs into the starting lineup.
Key Battle: Nathan Aké vs Jamie Vardy
After a successful half-season on loan last year, Aké completed a £20m permanent transfer this summer with everyone expecting more great things from the young defender. Having been moved to his preferred position of central defence, Aké could not have the same effect so far that he did at this stage of last season.
Having conceded eleven goals without managing any clean sheets, Bournemouth will hope to buck this trend on Saturday and Aké’s performance will be at the heart of their hopes in achieving this.
Yet again Vardy will be the Foxes’ main hope for taking something from this game as the player who is most likely to score for the Foxes.
Only Shinji Okazaki (3) and Harry Maguire (1) have also netted in the league while Vardy leads the way having scored five goals from six games despite playing with a hip complaint that requires painkilling injections during matches.
With a record of three goals from his six games against Bournemouth, Vardy will be confident of improving this ratio before taking a well-earned rest during the international break.
Closing out a game
After two high-profile and big-money additions to their defence this summer, it comes as a surprise that this is still the Cherries’ biggest area of weakness.
With the team slowly exerting more authority in recent weeks, they’re still unable to control any more than portions of their matches and crucially the latter stages of the game still appear to be beyond them.
Eddie Howe has won much praise for his role in bringing a club who were almost out of business a few short years ago, up the divisions and established in the Premier League.
His style of play and philosophies are widely applauded, and he looks to be a coach of the highest order on the training ground, however, he needs to see his side close down matches when they’re ahead.
Twice this season they have let a lead slip into defeat while they’ve also capitulated 28 points from winning positions since the beginning of last season, more than any other Premier League team.
Going off the boil
Leicester have been a team to blow hot and cold throughout their history in the top-flight, bar one anomalous season two years ago.
While they’ve often been found near the bottom of the table, they’ve always played with a desire to win and this is the main factor which has saved them from relegation on more than one occasion.
With this in mind, it may not come as too much of a surprise to their fans they’re again struggling to get points in the early stages of a Premier League campaign.
Craig Shakespeare will need to change his team’s fortunes if they’re to fight back from this start, but the problem he’s facing goes back further than just the start of this season.
After winning the first five Premier League games when he succeeded Ranieri to claim 15 points and move the Foxes out of trouble, he has since found wins scarce. The following 14 games up to this weekend have collected only 12 points which not only shows a huge drop-off, it’s practically relegation form.
PREDICTION: Bournemouth 1 – 3 Leicester City
Both sets of fans have been witness to goals flying in at both ends of the pitch for their respective teams this season so there should be more goals in this game than in recent encounters between them.
Bournemouth have a quality about their play but seem unable to put enough of it together to last 90 minutes while Leicester have looked good in attack this season.
With a run of easier-looking games, on paper at least, this match could be an early turning point in the Foxes’ season.
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