Leicester v Sunderland – Premier League
Leicester are once again without Morgan, which is a weakening defensively, but in all other areas, they are at full strength. Albrighton returns from illness but may have to make do with a place on the bench as Gray keeps his spot for another game after impressing. Okazaki is vulnerable to dropping out but should start in an unchanged 11, with Craig Shakespeare reluctant to break up a winning team. They’re in exceptional form and welcome bottom club Sunderland full of belief after five straight wins in all competitions. Despite this, they remain just six points above the bottom three, so they can’t take anything for granted this time round, though only a win will be viewed as a positive outcome. They can move into the top half with a win, so motivation to continue their uptrend is very high. The aim will be to start well and break Sunderland down as quickly as possible, as it could become a scrappy affair if they allow their guests to dig in. Scoring first allows them to sit back and counter, which is their strong suit. Goals have been flowing lately so they’d back themselves to win even from behind, while if ahead they will continue looking to pad their advantage to seal the win.
Sunderland are nervously waiting on a fitness test for key striker Defoe, who is a doubt with a knee problem. The expectation is they take a risk on him given his importance, but if out it is an irreplaceable loss in the final third. Anichebe could return but is only likely to make the bench, while minor tactical changes see Ndong and Larsson pressing to start for Gibson and Rodwell. Things are getting to a desperate point now for Sunderland, being eight points from safety and in terrible form. Without a goal in five, the potential loss of Defoe would leave them even less potent, so they’ll hope he pulls through. Facing in-form Leicester won’t fill them with confidence, and though they need a win, a draw isn’t a bad result and would give them something to build on. The game plan is going to be to set up and frustrate as long as possible, as conceding first means it’s likely to be another defeat on their travels. They have to keep it low scoring and if level late it’s unlikely they take any risks and try to pursue a winner. In reality, they need to score first to win, but even that may not be enough to get all three points given their lack of form and belief.
Verdict & Prediction
The atmosphere around Leicester is superb at the moment, as their 100% record under Craig Shakespeare continued at the weekend. They are climbing the table and have excellent momentum after five straight wins, but they still sit just six points above the drop zone so can’t ease off. They can make it into the top half of the table with a win against bottom club Sunderland, provided results go their way elsewhere, so motivation should be very high to continue their run of wins. They’re full of belief and would be very disappointed not to take another win this time round.
Prediction: Leicester -1.00 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.75 SBOBET