Analysis: Will Leicester City beat Newcastle United if their star players return?
Jamie Vardy fires a shot towards Martin Dubravka | Photo: Getty/ Lindsey Parnaby

Leicester City kick off their 2021 on Tyneside as they take on Newcastle United.

The Foxes' last game of 2020 saw their much changed side frustrated against Crystal Palace having only gained a point after spurning a number of chances, including a penalty save denying Kelechi Iheanacho.

Newcastle will take confidence from their last game having shut out Liverpool to take a point thanks to a number of superb saves from Karl Darlow.

It would be expected that Leicester's big-hitters will be restored to the starting lineup but will they have enough to pierce the Toon defence that kept out the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah?

Last season's results suggest Foxes win

Leicester enjoyed two very comfortable outings against Newcastle last season, beating them by an aggregate score of 8-0. 

The last time the two sides met came on New Year's Day last year, whereby the East Midlands side dominated the match and scored three goals on their way to an emphatic win.

The scoreline itself did not paint the full picture of the match, as Leicester enjoyed 77% of the ball, 17 shots and 10 of those were on target compared to Newcastle's five shots, only two of which they could trouble the keeper with.

Should the match follow the same script, it would be difficult to see anything other than a Leicester win, especially with the likes of a fresh Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans returning to the starting lineup after missing out last outing.

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Missed chances against Palace could inspire change

Much like match against Newcastle that was highlighted before, Leicester dominated in London but did not have that cutting edge. While it can be argued that they played a much changed side, it was still the majority of the side that won the Europa League group.

The Foxes had 17 shots in total and dominated possession having enjoyed 67% of it, but they only managed three shots on target and one of them was from the penalty spot.

Of course, with Vardy returning to the side, especially if his goal scoring record away from home this season is considered, Leicester on paper should be more clinical in front of goal, but the missed chances away to Palace will have given Brendan Rodgers plenty to think about in training as he looks to get his side to their clinical best once again. 

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Newcastle's last performance may worry Foxes

It has been apparent this season that Leicester thrive off teams that come out of defence and leave space in behind and have struggled against teams that have sat back and defended deep.

Newcastle's performance against Liverpool saw them do just this as they became the first side this season to stop the champions from scoring. Not only did they subdue the attacking threat of Mane, Salah and Firmino, but they also looked threatening on the counter attack as they managed eight shots despite only having 26% possession.

The Foxes have evolved over the years to be more comfortable on the ball but have also shown that they can run out of ideas against a low block, as well as being susceptible to counter attacks.

It will be up to their returning midfield stars, Tielemans and James Maddison to unlock the Newcastle defence for the likes of Vardy and Harvey Barnes to benefit from, while Wilfred Ndidi will be tasked to be on alert for when Newcastle attackers in Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Joelinton look to pounce on the break.