Jack Stroudley looks ahead to our Bank Holiday fixture against the Foxes.
Another week, another dubious penalty decision, and another defeat for Fulham, which now makes it three losses on the bounce. Despite all of that though, we still find ourselves comfortably in the top half and are now heading into the final month of the season with a decent run of games (on paper). The first of those come on Monday when we welcome Leicester City, a side who despite having quality across the board, only sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference. We narrowly beat the Foxes back in January, but how do we go about it again?
As mentioned previously, Leicester are blessed with some quality talent with the likes of Youri Tielemans, Jamie Vardy and James Maddison all playing under the newly-appointed Dean Smith. Since replacing Brendan Rodgers, Dean Smith has picked up five points out of a possible nine with results against Wolves, Leeds and Everton.
Statistically, Leicester have been quite good going forward in those three games, with an overall xG in those games of 8.39 scored while also being relatively sloppy at the back with an xG of 6.18 conceded. The former Premier League champions will be strengthened further with the return of Ricardo Pereira.
How do we prepare?
Marco rotated slightly in midweek bringing in the likes of Cedric Soares and Sasa Lukic, given our admirable performance at Anfield (despite the narrow loss) here’s how I’d start on Monday.
The first change would be in defence bringing in Kenny Tete to replace Cedric Soares and while the Portuguese defender played OK in midweek, we are always stronger with Kenny Tete.
I would also keep with Vinicius, who has been relatively impressive over the last week with solid performances against Manchester City and Liverpool, Leicester aren’t the most aggressive of sides so the Brazilian could cause some issues.
The main change is in midfield where Harrison Reed comes in for Tom Cairney. This is nothing against Cairney; he has been very good over the course of the season, but I don’t think he’s got the legs to play a full 90. Lukic was OK in midweek and a few more starts will do him the world of good and allowing him to play in a midfield with two other workhorses (Palhinha and Reed) will enable him to shine brighter. Furthermore, Cairney is going to be more effective off the bench than either Reed or Lukic and could give some needed creativity later on in the game.
The final verdict
I’m actually very confident going into this one. Leicester’s xG has indicated that despite being good going forward they are quite wasteful and Bernd Leno has proven once already this season he has Leicester’s number. Vinicius seems to be finding his feet with a run of games and the return of Willian boosts us going forward even more. The Foxes have a lot more to play for and while they’ll be up for it, I think this will be a routine day at the office. Fulham 2-0 Leicester.