Leicester vs Wolves: Predicted starting line-up
Rayan Ait-Nouri, Pedro Neto and Ruben Neves celebrate after Ait-Nouri scores the opening goal on his debut against Crystal Palace | Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images.

Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers are both on good unbeaten runs and are climbing up the table rapidly. Leicester have gone five games unbeaten, Wolves four, and during those runs Leicester have scored 14 goals while Wolves have only conceded once. Both are currently in the top six, and depending on results elsewhere, a win at the King Power Stadium could carry either to the top of the Premier League table.

With such a huge game ahead, who will Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo trust to start on Sunday?

The opposition

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Brendan Rodgers' side has not been very tactically settled through the opening weeks of the 2020/21 season, using a back four system on five occasions, and a back three/back at times.

Given that the last four games (victories against Arsenal, AEK Athens, Leeds United and SC Braga) have seen Leicester in a 3-4-3/3-4-2-1, it is safe to assume that the same system will be used against Wolves this weekend.

Jonny Evans has returned from a back injury and will be available to strengthen the Leicester defence. Meanwhile, fellow defenders Caglar Soyuncu (groin), Timothy Castagne (hamstring), Daniel Amartey (hamstring) and Ricardo Pereira (knee), as well as midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (hip), are all sidelined.

With winger Marc Albrighton expected to start at right wing-back, it is safe to assume that the majority of Leicester's wide attacks will come down their right/Wolves' left with Albrighton overlapping down the touchline and pressing high.

This will limit the ability of Wolves' left wing-back to attack high up the pitch due to the threat of the left centre-back being outnumbered out wide.

According to whoscored.com, Leicester attack equally down the left and right wings (38% on each) and 25% of the time they attack through the middle.

This suggests that the wing-backs and wingers/attacking midfielders will be key to Leicester's attack, spreading the play out wide before sending it central to Jamie Vardy (61% of Leicester's shots come through the middle, compared to 26% from the left and 14% from the right).

Wolves faced this style of attack against Leeds, who had an even greater degree of attacking intensity than Leicester will be able to apply, and Nuno was able to deal with this successfully by pulling his wingers and wing-backs deep from a 3-4-3 into a 5-4-1 to absorb the pressure before attacking on the break.

Much the same defensive strategy can be expected against Leicester - the Wolves wingers and wing-backs will be able to outnumber the Leicester wingers while the three Wolves central defenders, assisted by the central midfielders, will be able to crowd out Leicester's central players.

Tactics and formation

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Nuno will almost undoubtedly stick with his tried and tested 3-4-3, due to the need for strength in the wide regions against Leicester and as a result of the success that it has brought Wolves so far.

With the issue over the selection at left centre-back settled for now and Max Kilman the preferred choice over Romain Saiss following an excellent run of form, the main selection headache for Nuno will concern his left wing-back.

With Marcal fully recovered from the calf injury, which affected him through the opening weeks of the season, with Rayan Ait-Nouri the name on all Wolves fans' lips following a brilliant debut performance (as well as the opening goal) against Crystal Palace and Saiss available as cover following some very respectable out-of-position performances there, Nuno is spoilt for choice.

Saiss is unlikely to start in that position due to the strength of the competition, so the choice is between the more attack-minded Ait-Nouri and the more defensive Marcal.

Due to the outnumbering threat of Albrighton and whoever starts on the right wing for Leicester, Nuno's cautious tendencies will probably win over, and it is likely that Marcal will start, preventing a numerical overload on that flank should Leicester counterattack rapidly.

In addition to Kilman, Conor Coady and Willy Boly are certainties at the back, as is Rui Patricio in goal. Nelson Semedo is also very likely to start at right wing-back.

Due to the stability and physicality, he brings to the centre of midfield and the massive difference in results between the games he starts and the games he doesn't start, Leander Dendoncker is almost guaranteed to start in the centre of midfield.

His partner is less certain - Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves both have similar qualities and a similar playing style, and both are very reliable.

There is very little to separate the two and each is as likely as the other to be picked to start, though a gut instinct suggests that Neves will be chosen in order to build up his experience of exceptionally high-pressure games.

In attack, the narrow combination of Raul Jimenez, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence is most likely to start, with Adama Traore as an impact substitute later on in the game once the Leicester wing-backs are exhausted and less able to keep up with him.

Jimenez is undroppable due to his goalscoring ability and link-up play; the creative capabilities of Podence are key to the new possession-based style Nuno wishes to implement; and Neto has been arguably Wolves' most consistently excellent attacker since the start of the season, completing multiple strategic tasks effectively in each game. All three need to start against Leicester.

Predicted line-up: 3-4-3:

Patricio; Boly, Coady, Kilman; Semedo, Dendoncker, Neves, Marcal; Neto, Jimenez, Podence.

Prediction

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The result of this game is far too difficult to call. On the surface, the main general narrative is Leicester's free-scoring attack coming up against Wolves' near-impenetrable defence. However, specific duels will be the deciding factors in this game. The areas to watch will be the Wolves left defensive side/Leicester right-wing, the individual battle between Jamie Vardy and Conor Coady, and the clash between Wolves' three narrow forwards and Leicester's three centre-backs.

This result could go either way; those inclined to place bets would be sensible to give this one a miss.

This match will be a must-watch whichever way it goes, and you can follow VAVEL's live text commentary here.

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