Leicester vs Sheffield United | Thursday 16th July 2020, 18:00 | Sky Sports
As the Premier League’s race for European qualification heightens, Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester welcome the season’s surprise package Sheffield United to the King Power Stadium. The Blades head south fresh off the back of handing out a 3-0 drubbing to third-placed Chelsea.
The fortunes of the Foxes have been of stark contrast to the Blades in recent weeks, none typifying their drastic loss of form as the season has progressed more than their capitulation to a 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth. The Cherries were sat just one place above the foot of the table when that game kicked off.
Caglar Soyuncu was dismissed for a kickout immediately after Bournemouth recovered to a 2-1 lead at the Vitality Stadium, his suspension will see Wolves loanee Ryan Bennett come in from the start, with a decision to make for Rodgers as to whether to deploy a three or four man defence.
Bennett was introduced on 16 minutes due to an injury to Marc Albrighton, slotting into to a back three alongside Jonny Evans and Soyuncu with James Justin pushed ahead to right wing back, it will be interesting to see if Rodgers sticks with that system given the shocking result and a 36-year-old Wes Morgan the next in line to step in should three centre backs be required.
With a lot of rotation between Lys Mousset, Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick in the partner of Ollie McBurnie up front in Chris Wilder’s trusted 3-5-2 system this season, the latter may have cemented his spot. The 32-year-old, known as Didzy to his teammates, bagged his first two Premier League goals of the season versus Chelsea, despite having received chances equating to over seven Expected Goals (xG) prior to the game.
The Republic of Ireland international is a former colleague of Wes Morgan, spending time at Nottingham Forest together, so their matchup head-to-head in the race for European qualification in the twilight of their careers would be some spectacle. Rodgers may tap into that second-tier experience in Morgan, to deal with the Blades’ threat.
One of the only positives the Leicester gaffer can take from the Bournemouth debacle is his star marksman Jamie Vardy found the net for the fourth time in his last three games. Vardy’s ruthless finishing played a huge role in the Foxes early season rise to second place, with the 33-year-old overperforming his xG this term by close to six goals. Scoring 23 from chances of just 17.41 xG.
United have the second best defence in the division, it is the main reason they occupy seventh place and are on the verge of Europa League football. Picking up since a rough return to action now only conceding twice in their last four outings, the Foxes have let in six in that time.
Before the Chelsea victory there had only been three total goals in Sheffield United’s previous two, with all but one of those strikes coming in the final 10 minutes.
Shipping four against Bournemouth could make Leicester cagier even though they do need three points to push on towards securing Champions League qualification. The goal line and Both Teams To Score markets looks sensible, and good value.