It’s East versus West in the Premier League on Monday night as Midlands rivals Leicester and West Brom battle for the points. Mike Norman previews the action, and is sticking with the side who never loses at the King Power…
Leicester v West Brom
Live on Sky Sports Main Event / Premier League
Leicester looking to climb the table
The Foxes go into this game sitting uncomfortably in the relegation zone, but such is the tight nature of the bottom half of the table a win for Craig Shakespeare‘s men will see them leapfrog no less than six clubs into 12th.
There’s no denying that Leicester’s start to the season has been slightly disappointing but I think Jose Mourinho was spot on when talking about their, and Everton’s, early-season fixtures, claiming that he would have found it hard not to complain if his club had been given such a gruelling fixture list.
Four of Leicester’s first six games of the season were against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United, and while they lost all four they performed with credit in each game, losing by just a single goal in three of those defeats and by two late goals in the other.
Shakespeare’s men are unbeaten in their other five games this term, three in the league and two in the EFL Cup, and they’ll see this East v West Midlands clash as a perfect opportunity to kick-start their season.
Jamie Vardy has recovered from a minor hip problem that caused him to miss out on England duty, and both Wilfred Ndidi and Ben Chilwell are also back to full fitness, though defender Robert Huth and midfielder Matty James remain sidelined.
Albion still unbeaten at the King Power
The Baggies went into the weekend in the top half of the table thanks largely to an excellent August when they won two, and drew one, of their three Premier League matches while also progressing to the next round of the EFL Cup.
But since that good start Tony Pulis’ men have failed to win any of their last six games in all competitions, drawing all three of their league home games and suffering away defeats to Brighton and Arsenal. They performed very well in the defeat at the Emirates, but squandering a two-goal lead at home to Watford just before the international break will have hurt massively.
However, Pulis could perhaps not have wished for a better fixture to switch back on the concentrations levels than this Midlands derby in which West Brom have a stunning record. The Baggies are unbeaten at the home of the Foxes since 1994, winning six and drawing two of their last eight league and cup visits to Leicester.
Nacer Chadli, James Morrison and Hal Robson-Kanu are all fitness doubts ahead of the trip to the King Power Stadium with the former the most likely to be absent with a back problem.
When you don’t have a strong opinion on who will come out on top, simply because you find it hard to split the teams, then it’s probably a good idea to go with the side that’s trading at the bigger price. It’s even better to go with that side when they have a brilliant head-to-head record in this fixture.
That team of course is West Brom, who can be backed at [4.5] despite sitting some eight places above their Midlands rivals and never losing at the King Power Stadium, and never losing away to Leicester for over 20 years.
The Foxes are available to back at [2.0] with the Draw at [3.5], but it’s hard to have confidence in Shakespeare’s men after taking just five points from their opening seven league games, regardless of how tough some of those fixtures were.
Unless Riyad Mahrez can weave his magic – and there’s been no sign of it so far this term – then Leicester’s greatest weapon is hitting teams on the break and finding space behind the opposition defence. There probably isn’t a better manager in the game at setting a team up to nullify such a threat than Pulis.
Not only that, it’s simply impossible to ignore West Brom’s excellent record away to Leicester. There’s no obvious reason why it’s so good, but it’s there in black and white and at the prices Albion have to be backed to maintain it.
I’m not a huge fan of head-to-head results when looking for a potential wager; what happened last season or the season before with completely different line-ups and/or managers should theoretically have no bearing on what happens now. But sometimes it does, and in derby matches it can often be worth a second glance.
And down the years this fixture has been quite bizarre. Leicester win at West Brom, West Brom win at Leicester.
The Foxes have triumphed at the Hawthorns in four of their last five visits with the scorelines reading 1-3, 3-0, 2-3, 2-3, and 0-1. While at the home of Leicester the Baggies have won five of the last six, the scorelines reading 1-2, 1-2, 1-4, 0-1, 2-2, and 1-2.
That’s a total of 37 goals scored in the last 11 meetings between these two – an average of 3.36 goals per game – with nine of those matches paying out on Over 2.5 Goals. Again, there’s no obvious reason why goals are always scored in this fixture, but by the same token there’s no obvious reason why it won’t continue and a price of [2.2] about witnessing at least three goals again looks fair to me.
Mike’s Individual Match Preview P/L (all competitions)
Staked: 15 pts
Returned: 29.02 pts
P/L: +14.02 pts