Aston Villa vs Leicester City Preview: Foxes go in search of record-breaking win
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Shinji Okazaki (C) of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leicester City at Villa Park on January 16, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

In-form Leicester City will be looking to break more records this weekend as they face struggling Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.

A win for the Foxes would break a club record of eight consecutive Premier League wins and cap off an excellent week after manager Brendan Rodgers signed a new five-year contract on Thursday to fend off interest from Arsenal.

For Dean Smith's Villa side they will be looking to return to winning ways after a midweek defeat to Chelsea and climb further away from the relegation zone with the Villans currently sat in 17th in the table.

Key Battle

Both teams have creative players in their ranks and the home side will most certainly look towards their club captain Jack Grealish to provide the key to unlock the Leicester defence, who have conceded the least amount of goals in the league this season.

Grealish has impressed so far whilst taking the armband for his boyhood club, with three goals and four assists to his name including a wonder-goal in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United, leading to some people touting him for a call-up to Gareth Southgate's England squad in the future.

Meanwhile in Leicester's ranks is another creative source and also a direct rival to Grealish for a place in the England squad in the shape of fellow number 10 James Maddison.

The 23-year-old continued his fine season with a goal in the 2-0 win at home to Watford to take his tally to five goals in the league as well as his two assists he has to his name.

Both teams will look to these players to take control of the game and pioneer their team to a vital three points.

What happened last time?

In a contrasting season for both sides the last meeting couldn't separate the two sides as they battled to a 1-1 draw in January 2016.

Tenacious striker Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring for Leicester after 28 minutes at Villa Park before Villa goalkeeper Mark Bunn prevented the Foxes from doubling their lead by saving a Riyad Mahrez penalty in the 33rd minute.

Claudio Ranieri's men were made to pay for missed chances in the second-half as target man Rudy Gestede levelled the scoring for the hosts leaving the two sides with a share of the spoils.

Aston Villa would go onto finish bottom of the Premier League that season whilst Leicester would complete one of the biggest shocks in football history as they lifted their first ever top-flight title.

Team News

Jed Steer and Keinan Davis are definitely ruled out for the hosts whilst winger Anwar El Ghazi is expected to recover from a groin injury but still remains a doubt.

Douglas Luiz and defender Bjorn Engels are also pushing for a return to the starting 11 meaning that Egyptian wide-man Trezeguet could drop to the bench.

Ben Chilwell will face a late fitness test after missing Wednesday's win against Watford with a hip injury as well as Demarai Gray who has recovered from illness but the game will come too soon for Matty James who is still working his way back from injury.

Team News 

Aston Villa: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane; El Ghazi, Wesley, Grealish.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Barnes, Maddison, Tielemans, Perez; Vardy.

Manager's Comments

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith had high praise for the Leicester side his team will face on Sunday but warned them that they will be in for a difficult test in the West Midlands.

Smith said: "They [Leicester] are on a fantastic run of form but we are at Villa Park.

"There aren't many teams who will come away from Villa Park and think they've had an easy game.

"We'll be up for it, our supporters will be up for it. We're ready and prepared to stop their run."

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers meanwhile spoke of his happiness at securing a new long-term deal to stay at the King Power Stadium.

He said: "It is something we have been speaking about for a few weeks. I am delighted to commit the next five and a half years here. 

"The players have been amazing. There is so much scope to develop the football club.

“There is the excitement of moving to a new training ground and we’ll see if we can establish ourselves at the top.”

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