As Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City and Garry Monk’s Swansea City clash in South Wales on Saturday afternoon, the two teams couldn’t be in more contrasting positions.
Whilst the Swans are languishing in 15th position in the Premier League, the Foxes are flying-high in an unbelievable 2nd and could even go to the summit with a positive result this weekend. However, with the English top-flight being as unpredictable as ever, anything could happen at the Liberty Stadium.
Tough place to go
Despite the fact that Ranieri’s men are currently enjoying their best start to a Premier League campaign in recent memory, they head to a ground where they have not experienced much luck in the past. In 15 clashes in South Wales, the Midlanders have come away with maximum points on only five occasions; highlighting the tough job that they will have on Saturday afternoon.
However, fortunately for Ranieri and his team, this is where the negative omens end. In all, the Premier League outfit have dominated their Welsh rivals. In a battle that has stretched all the way back to 1935 (when the Swans were still known as Swansea Town) and has included 31 different clashes, the Foxes have managed to gain victories in 14, whereas Swansea have only taken the three points on nine occasions.
Nevertheless, regardless of who takes the win on Saturday afternoon, history also suggests something else is guaranteed at the Liberty Stadium – goals. Since their first meeting, the two teams have netted 89 times – averaging an outstanding total of 2.87 goals per game. So, supporters could be in for a real treat at the weekend.
On the other hand, this game will take on added significance for both sides regardless of the past entertainment offered to fans. Leicester City travel to the game with the prospect of a low-confidence Swansea side in their way (something they may not have expected at the start of the campaign).
In a surprising story, Garry Monk’s team have really struggled this season. Since their 2-1 reverse of Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United way back in August, the Jacks have only managed to win one game (a 2-1 victory at Villa Park) and their manager has come under real pressure as a result of an unsatisfactory total of only 14 points in the Premier League.
Whereas, Leicester City are enjoying not only a completely different season to the Swans’ but also to what was predicted for them personally. After struggling for the majority of the last campaign and surprisingly sacking popular manager Nigel Pearson, many predicted a season of trouble for the Foxes.
However, Claudio Ranieri’s men have greatly surprised everyone so far. Taking 29 points, the Foxes are undefeated in seven Premier League games since their 5-2 loss to Arsenal in September. As a matter of fact, the Midlanders have not tasted defeat on the road since the 21st of March (a 5-3 defeat at White Hart Lane at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur).
So, Claudio Ranieri will be keen to extend this exemplary record this weekend when his squad visits the Liberty Stadium.
Travelling to South Wales, one man will not be able to take part in proceedings. Having joined the Foxes on-loan in the summer, Swansea winger Nathan Dyer will not be allowed to make an appearance against his parent club.
Also, midfielder Matty James will not be travelling with the squad due to a long-term injury sustained in May. However, the popular Englishman has stepped up his recovery process as he participated in an U21 match on Wednesday night. Furthermore, defender Ritchie De Laet also looks set to miss out after Ranieri revealed the Belgian picked up a knock in training.
Nevertheless, one man who looks like making an appearance is record-breaking striker Jamie Vardy. After netting against Manchester United last weekend, it was revealed that the former Fleetwood Town frontman sustained an injury but (to the dismay of Garry Monk) he looks fit enough to face the Swans. So, the Welsh club’s defence will have a tough task in containing the current leading scorer in the English top-flight.
On the other hand, there are doubts over who will partner the speedy striker in the Foxes’ attack. With Shinji Okazaki putting in another below-par performance against the Red Devils, Claudio Ranieri may be forced to dip into his squad and either draft in Leonardo Ulloa or Andrej Kramaric.
In the Swans’ camp, Garry Monk only has one injury to contend with. After injuring his calf during training, French defender Franck Tabanou looks to be side-lined for at least a few weeks.
However, another long-term injury absentee looks ready to make an impact on the Swans’ stop-start season so far. Having made his long-awaited return against Liverpool, Gylfi Sigurdsson will soon hope to be back to his best when the Foxes visit the Liberty.
In all though, Swansea have a full complement to choose from including talented strike duo Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Ayew so the Foxes will have to be on top-form if they are to take a positive result home to the East Midlands.
Swansea City – Fabianski, Naughton, Williams, Bartley, Taylor, Shelvey, Ki, Montero, Sigurdsson, Ayew, Gomis.
Leicester City – Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Albrighton, Kante, Drinkwater, Mahrez, Vardy, Okazaki.