Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has backed Leicester City to ‘pass, probe and eventually score’ against Newcastle United, with Jamie Vardy a likely key man to proceedings with James Maddison a doubt.
The midfielder sat out the King Power Stadium native’s Carabao Cup clash at Luton during the week, and Brendan Rodgers is now expected to prepare his East Midlands side for the challenge of Newcastle without last Saturday’s match-winner.
Rodgers will not be without his share of potential game-changers on Sunday, though, as Nicholas feels 32-year-old striker Vardy – who also sat out the EFL Cup affair – can make a difference, so long as Leicester find gaps in Newcastle’s defence early enough.
“Leicester are going well,” Nicholas noted in his weekly predictions for Sky Sports, while backing the Foxes to win 2-0. “[Maddison] scores the winner and has an influential game against Tottenham! He did some eye-catching things at Old Trafford, but it was only done in small pockets. His potential is still growing, though.
“Maddison is an injury doubt for this one, but I can only see a Leicester win regardless. Newcastle dug in and were dogged in their draw against Brighton last week, but Leicester will pass, probe and eventually score. Jamie Vardy needs the ball into gaps earlier if they are to break down a back three or five, and I think they will do that.”
Vardy has so far had a fairly quiet top-flight campaign with four goalless displays in six games, but hit a brace against AFC Bournemouth and the opener against Sheffield United for his only strikes of the term thus far (TransferMarkt).
The former England man was a constant threat against Spurs last time out, and fashioned his joint-most shots in a league game this season with three (WhoScored), as his relentless pressing ensured the North London natives were constantly nervous.
If Rodgers is able to get the ball into Vardy enough, as Nicholas pointed to, Newcastle will have their hands full, and space may open up further back for players like Youri Tielemans to advance – the Belgian scored his second goal of the campaign against Luton in the Carabao Cup.
With Jonjo Shelvey ruled out through a hamstring injury (Chronicle) the Magpies will be relying on Sean Longstaff to cover the space in front of their backline, who may be the better choice regardless as he has averaged 2.0 more tackles per ninety minutes than his Toon teammate, along with more clearances and blocks.
Newcastle fans, who would you match up against Vardy to reduce his threat? Let us know in the comments below…
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