Stoke City vs Leicester City Preview: Can the Foxes regain their form?

Stoke City vs Leicester City Preview: Can the Foxes regain their form?

In the clash of the two Midlands teams, Leicester will be looking to pick up their first away win of the season.

Ed Mackey

Stoke City host the Leicester City on Saturday in a match where Claudio Ranieri will be desperate to see his side finally win on the road. Mark Hughes' Stoke team stand in the way of the Foxes and they're looking to put a run of form together themselves.

After an emphatic 4-2 win over Manchester City last weekend, Leicester City came back down to earth with a poor 1-0 loss away at Bournemouth. Whereas Stoke picked up a 0-0 draw against Southampton in midweek after being despatched 3-1 at the Emirates last weekend. The two sides come together at the Britannia on the last weekend before Christmas.

Lack of a goalscorer

Both sides have struggled to find a deadly striker who can consistently hit the back of the net this season. This certainly wasn't a problem last term for the Foxes as Jamie Vardy was the second highest goalscorer in the Premier League with 24 goals while Riyad Mahrez chipped in with 17 goals himself.

This season hasn't been different in the way that Vardy is still their top scorer but, if it wasn't for his hat-trick against Man City, he'd still be stuck on two goals. Five goals in 1224 minutes is a poor record for his high standards of last season and his partner-in-crime, Mahrez, has scored three, all of which have come from the penalty spot.

They've struggled for goals all over the pitch and have only managed 21 in the league. Their opponents, on the other hand, have only scored on 17 occasions so far this season. They have also had problems finding an out-and-out goalscorer and their top scorer is Joe Allen, a very unfamiliar scorer. Last season's hero, Xherdan Shaqiri, is second with three goals, which is disappointing for a player of his standard.

However, neither of these players are strikers by trade, their highest scoring striker is Wilfried Bony with a mere two goals, an awful return after his big-money move from Manchester City in the summer. The only other Potters striker who has registered a goal this season is Jon Walters, his first goal of the season was a good one that came against Burnley in a 2-0 victory. ​

Better on the road?

The hosts are positioned higher in the away table than they are for their home fixtures. Although they've picked up 11 points at home compared to 9 away from home, they are six places higher in the table based on away games. While this shows the advantages of the home crowd amongst the other Premier League teams, it shows that Stoke are encountering more trouble at the Britannia than they are on the road.

The way the play, an expansive fast-flowing passing game, could be the reason for this. Home teams don't like to face away teams that attack right from the start as it provides added pressure, whereas when they are the hosts, other teams will rather sit back and soak up the pressure. And while Stoke find themselves dominating most of their home games in terms of possession, they struggle to handle teams that tend to strike on the break.

The Foxes have had the opposite problem. Their away form has been particularly dreadful, only managing to pick up one point and that came at White Hart Lane against last season's title rivals, Tottenham. They've found themselves on the end of thrashings from Chelsea (3-0), Liverpool (4-1) and Manchester United (4-1) with some other awful away results, most notably the 2-1 defeat to Hull in the first match of the season. It seems that other teams have figured out their 'smash-and-grab' approach away from home that they showed on numerous occasions last season, where they sat back, soaked up all the pressure and then counter-attacked with blistering pace. They only lost one away game last season, 1-0 at Anfield, they have already lost seven out of eight this season!

The home form is very different, where they have picked up 15 of their 16 points. The only defeat at the King Power Stadium came at the hands of Tony Pulis' in-form West Brom team. Although, they've also had some disappointing draws where they could've easily lost, the Middlesbrough and Southampton games fit that category. The amazing performance last weekend stood out as a rare top-drawer showing where they showed the imperious form that was present last season. A 0-0 draw with Arsenal was another result that the Foxes faithful were happy with. The raucous King Power crowd have pulled them through several games, something they were known for especially last term. Although they haven't had much to get excited about this season, they have still stayed loud and proud, something that has been valued very highly by Ranieri and his team.

Team News

Phil Bardsley and Jack Butland are the main injuries in Stoke's team but will both return in and around the beginning of the new year. Geoff Cameron is also out for the clash. Stephen Ireland (broken leg) and Ibrahim Affellay (torn ACL) will return in the next couple of months after long-term injuries.

Leicester will be hopeful Danny Drinkwater and Kasper Schmeichel make their return to the first team for the weekend's fixture. The pair have been two of their stand-out performers this term and have been missed massively while they have been out. Nampalys Mendy might also see a return to the team after a catalogue of injuries since his summer move from OCG Nice.

Predicted Line-Ups

Stoke City: Lee Grant, Glen Johnson, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Muniesa, Erik Pieters; Glen Whelan, Charlie Adam, Joe Allen; Marko Arnautovic, Bojan, Wilfried Bony.

Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs; Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Daniel Amartey, Marc Albrighton; Shinji Okazaki, Jamie Vardy.