BEN LEVENE (@BenLevene96) has scoured the markets ahead of Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off as Stoke host Leicester.
Stoke v Leicester | Saturday 4th November 2017, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Last weekend’s win at Watford would have been a relief for Mark Hughes’ Stoke. Things were beginning to go a bit stale and they had picked up just one win from seven going into the game.
The Potters will be keen to follow up last Saturday’s three-points with another positive result at home to Leicester in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Life at Leicester for Claude Puel began in ideal fashion as they beat Everton courtesy of two first-half goals. Puel received heavy criticism for his style of play during his season at Southampton.
Mauricio Pelligrino has since struggled to find a solution down at St Mary’s, so it will be interesting to see how Puel fares at The Foxes.
Leicester’s new look
Last weekend, he set up in more of a 4-2-3-1 system with Riyad Mahrez given a license behind Jamie Vardy. Puel also opted to go with Ben Chilwell and Demarai Gray as out-and-out wingers as opposed to the inverted wide-men Leicester have become renowned for in recent seasons.
They began the game against Everton having the lions-share of possession. The Foxes played out from the back, with Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire happy to step out with the ball.
Wilfried Ndidi dropped in between the two centre-backs to receive possession, a feature that was striking at Southampton last season with Oriel Romeu.
There was definite evidence that Puel is trying to change things up, so with another week under his belt, expect further digression from the aggressive style that we’ve associated with Leicester over the last two years.
Stoke’s only league clean sheet at the Bet365 Stadium this season came in August’s win over Arsenal. They’ve conceded two or more goals in their last three at home, despite Hughes going with a back-three. Their last four at home have seen Over 2.5 Goals.
I’m still not convinced by Stoke. They won last weekend courtesy of a well-worked set-piece and that’s a sign of the times. Hughes’ team have been struggling to churn out results. As a unit they’re unconvincing and don’t come across as a well-drilled and cohesive side.
The back-three system doesn’t seem to suit. Mame Biram Diouf is a striker turned wing-back and while he is their top scorer, it’s a sign they’re struggling to create chances. The front players have been isolated in recent weeks and they’re seemingly reliant on moments rather than overall team performance.
Only Crystal Palace have conceded more goals so far this season and a leaky defence coupled with a lack of goal threats could spell trouble over the course of the season.
The betting angle
Although I’m keen to oppose Stoke, it’s worth taking into account the uncertainties that come with a new manager. Nonetheless, Leicester are outsiders in the Draw No Bet market and they are worth chancing at odds-against with the insurance of the draw onside at 51/50 (Marathon).
Ryan Shawcross is a doubt and that would be a massive blow for Mark Hughes. Shawcross was the Potters’ stand out performer last weekend. Four of Stoke’s five home games in the league this season have had 11 or more corners.
Each of Leicester’s five away league trips have yielded 12 or more corners. If you like your stats, then this may be a quirky angle you choose to keep onside given Over 10.5 Corners is priced at 10/11. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Puel’s style will produce corners and that is a heavy limitation.
Stoke v Leicester – Leicester draw no bet (51/50 Marathon)
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