The Big Match Tactical View: Leicester v Newcastle

Leicester v Newcastle
Saturday 12:45
Live on BT Sport 1

Match Odds: Leicester [1.98], Newcastle [4.4], The Draw [3.7].

Six weeks ago, you wouldn’t have considered this fixture a crucial relegation battle – Leicester had just 19 points, and were seemingly dead and buried, while Newcastle were on 35 and were seemingly free from danger.

Four consecutive Leicester wins later, however, and they’re up to 31 points – while Newcastle haven’t picked up a single result during that period. Now, just four points separate these sides, and suddenly Newcastle are in real danger.

Leicester’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in midweek means their winning run is over – but a loss to the champions elect is entirely excusable, and Nigel Pearson is unlikely to make significant changes to his side. The 3-5-2 system is working well, and while Robert Huth and Andy King departed midway through the Chelsea defeat because of injury, Ritchie de Laet and Matty James would be decent replacements.

The problem for the Foxes, however, is that it’s an extremely quick turnaround between the two games. They’ve had only one day of rest, and one day of preparation – the only consolation, of course, is that both matches are at home, and therefore no time has been wasted travelling. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Leicester faded late on.

Newcastle have the benefit of a long rest, but they’re on a truly terrible run of form. Seven straight defeats is real cause for concern – it equals the worst spell of any Premier League team this season, with Aston Villa’s atrocious run in the autumn.

Are there any reasons to be optimistic for the away side? Well, Siem de Jong scored against Swansea last weekend, the only bright moment of a miserable, injury-hit season for the Dutchman, and he could be handed a start here to provide an element of invention and excitement in the Newcastle side.

Meanwhile, the midfield has looked better since Jack Colback returned to that position, following a run at full-back where he wasn’t able to influence the game, while the return of Fabricio Coloccini should – in theory – sort out the backline, although this wasn’t obvious in last week’s 3-2 defeat to Swansea.

Tactical interested is provided by Leicester’s 3-5-2 system. Marc Albrighton and Jeffrey Schlupp have performed well as wing-backs, but there’s a question about whether the centre-backs, and in particular Wes Morgan, are mobile enough to cover the space in behind them when the opposition break quickly.

In fairness, this is about the only thing Newcastle have done well in recent weeks – Ayoze Perez runs the channels well and provides an out-ball when possession is won, while Remy Cabella and Moussa Sissoko can break forward from midfield quickly.

Leicester, however, should enjoy the majority of the ball and put lots of pressure on the Newcastle backline. Both Schlupp and Albrighton enjoy crossing the ball, while Leonardo Ulloa is an obvious target, and Jamie Vardy has returned to goalscoring ways in recent weeks – while he’s better attacking directly and using his pace in behind the defence, he’s also a decent poacher and capable of converting from close-range. His winner away at Burnley last weekend, scored from on the goalline, is an obvious example.

Leicester are rightly strong favourites, although I’d be a little reluctant to back them in the outright market at odds-on.

However, considering Newcastle haven’t scored in their last four away games, backing Leicester to win to nil at around [3.0] looks more favourable.

Recommended Bet
Back Leicester to win ‘to nil’ at [3.0]

The Betfair Trader’s View: Alan Thompson

Leicester City look a little short at evens against Newcastle United but I can see why the odds are out of line, this is a Newcastle side that are quite frankly desperate – the head coach is engaging with fans who shout rude names at him, the chairman, despite being one of the wealthiest men in the UK, is having documentaries aired about his “shady” business operations, and the team have now lost seven consecutive league games.

Newcastle should have enough points to escape relegation this season and on the plus side Moussa Sissoko is available again after completing his two match ban. However up front the Magpies will remain toothless as Papiss Cisse is serving the final match of his suspension so Emmanuel Riviere will probably continue in the side and make his 20th Premier League appearance, he is yet to score.

The Foxes though won’t care about any of that as they look to secure Premier League status. After their excellent run of four consecutive wins they were defeated in midweek, despite enjoying a half time lead against the champions elect Chelsea. It will be an amazing escape if Nigel Pearson‘s team can pull it off and with three of their remaining four games against fellow strugglers you wouldn’t back against it.

They have been rooted to the foot of the table since November, but the 12 points from their last five starts has taken them out the relegation trapdoor positions.

While Leicester in my opinion offer no value at evens, I couldn’t make a case to back Newcastle with counterfeit, so instead the quest for a bet on a home win lies elsewhere. Leicester City have scored 12 goals in five games while Newcastle have failed to score in each of their last four away games and managed just four in their sequence of seven defeats(two did come last week at home against Swansea).

I will enhance the Leicester price by backing Leicester to win to nil but will be looking for odds of around [3.2].