Claudio Ranieri brings a team to the Hawthorns for the first time for more than 12 years since he was manager of a victorious Chelsea side back in March 2003, with the Foxes seeking the first successive top flight victories at Albion for 80 years.
On that occasion, the second win was some five and a half years after the first whereas it has been just six months since the Foxes last visit. When Nigel Pearson’s City travelled to the Hawthorns in April, they had just recorded their first league win for three months, a 2-1 win over West Ham while Albion had suffered a shock 4-1 home defeat to struggling QPR. The Baggies faithful were celebrating the life of Jeff Astle, but despite being 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go, they allowed the visitors to spoil the party.
In the 17 Premier League games since, City have lost just twice and are sitting pretty in fifth place in the table. The scorer of the last minute winner in April, Jamie Vardy, has started the season superbly and is leading the Premier League goalscoring charts. In fact, his ten goals in ten games is two more than the entire Albion side have managed this season.
Leicester’s 20 goals this season is bettered only by West Ham and Man City but the five teams who have conceded more goals than the 17 the Foxes have let in are all in the bottom six (including Chelsea). City fans who have attended all their games this season will have seen more Premier League goals than any other set of supporters.
For Albion, it is a very different story. No team has scored fewer than the eight goals the Baggies have managed and only four teams, all in the top six, have conceded fewer. And it will be no surprise to those who have suffered through all of the Baggies games this season that they have seen the fewest goals of any supporters, just 19.
So will it be the freescoring Leicester or the meagre Baggies that will win the day? While Albion’s back-to-back wins have been welcome, disquiet will remain amongst Baggies fans while the performances remain unconvincing. Last week’s showing at Carrow Road was an improvement, but the home fans have had very little in the way of entertainment since Chelsea’s visit in August.
Tony Pulis indicated that there are a number of his squad struggling with injuries, but was unwilling to name names in his press conference on Friday. James Morrison has missed the past two games and there is no doubt that Albion would welcome his energy back to the team, despite having won both of the matches he has sat out.
Leicester endured the full two hours in mid-week as they lost on penalties to Hull City in the Capital One Cup, but Ranieri made ten changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace with Marc Albrighton the only man to have started both games with Vardy and Mahrez both coming on in the second half. In terms of injuries, Ulloa is a slight doubt while Matthew James is a long term absentee.
Leicester have scored in every game this season while Albion have kept six clean sheets, so something will have to give. While the football might not be pretty, Pulis seems to have helped Albion to rediscover their defensive solidity in the past two games and, although it will be a tough test, I think Albion will make it three clean sheets on the bounce and record another narrow win.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
11 Apr 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Fletcher, Gardner)
Leicester City 3 (Nugent, Huth, Vardy)
1 Nov 2014 – Premier League
Leicester City 0
West Brom 1 (Cambiasso (o.g.))
Last win at the Hawthorns
2 Apr 2010 – League Championship
West Brom 3 (Morrison, Koren (2))
Leicester City 0
Albion’s Record against Leicester City
|Premier League Record|