Leicester City look to carry their bright start into the international break Saturday when they host a Bournemouth side trying to move forward without an integral piece of their back line.
(Potential Starting XIs)
The Foxes (1-2-0) are one of only four Premier League sides without a loss, with their top-four position recalling the wistful days of their stunning run to the 2016 title. It is still too early to tell if Brendan Rodgers’ side have that type of staying power, but the early returns are positive after breaking through for their first victory of the campaign with last weekend’s 2-1 win at promoted Sheffield United.
Harvey Barnes’ half-volley on 70 minutes shortly after his introduction separated the sides, with Jamie Vardy’s classy first-half finish off an inch-perfect pass from James Maddison canceled out by Sheffield’s Oliver McBurnie in the 62nd minute. The result gave Leicester City four points from their two road matches, and their forward play throughout pleased Rodgers.
“Games like this really test your spirit as a team and you can see that mentality, it was there in bucket loads,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “We need to be better in certain moments, we need to be able to play quicker and a bit cleaner with our passing building through the game, but what we showed was a fantastic resilience in the game, to dig in and score two quality goals.”
Leicester built on that win, though barely, as they outlasted Newcastle United on penalties in the second round of the Carabao Cup after playing to a 1-1 draw. Ayoze Perez may have been pressing in his return to St James’ Park after his £30 million move to the Midlands, but keeper Kasper Schmeichel proved up to the moment midweek with successive stops on Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden before Vardy converted the clincher.
“It’s massively important. It would have been such a disappointment to go out in the second round,” Schmeichel said, recalling their quarterfinal League Cup exit last year on penalties to Manchester City. “This is a trophy that we feel last year we should’ve gone further in and a trophy we ultimately should be competing for.”
Maddison, whose first-half free kick accounted for Leicester’s goal Wednesday, was called up to the England national squad along with left back Ben Chilwell for upcoming Euro qualifiers versus Bulgaria and Kosovo. Though this is Maddison’s second call-up, he has yet to feature for the senior side – something that could change in the second match against group minnows Kosovo.
Bournemouth barely avoided making a second-round exit in the Carabao Cup, needing penalties to defeat League Two side Forest Green after a scoreless 90 minutes. No. 3 keeper Marc Travers stopped all three penalty attempts for the Cherries, who bossed the match but could not find a way past a determined Joe Wollacott.
“It was a very tough game and full credit to Forest Green,” Howe told Bournemouth’s official website. “They defended well, they made it difficult for us, they got bodies behind the ball and their goalkeeper played well.
“But we were kicking ourselves. We should have won the game comfortably, we had enough chances to do it but we weren’t clinical in front of goal.”
Protecting the goal will likely be Howe’s primary concern going forward as the Cherries will be without Charlie Daniels for the remainder of the season. The left back suffered a dislocated patella tendon in the first half of last weekend’s 3-1 loss to Manchester City on Sunday and is scheduled for surgery.
Daniels, who has been with the Cherries since they were a League One side in 2011, was limited to 21 league games last term due to injuries.
“We are devastated for Charlie, who had worked so hard to come back from his previous knee injury on his left knee in the second half of last season,” Howe said Thursday. “Our worst fears were confirmed following scans this week.
“Charlie is a big character around this club, he has been a huge part of our journey and our rise through the leagues and he will continue to be just as important while undergoing his recovery.”
While striker Callum Wilson also earned a call-up to the Three Lions, Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson again impressed with his second goal in as many league matches. The 22-year-old bent in a free kick just before halftime – becoming the youngest player since Anthony Martial to score in his first two Premier League appearances — to give Bournemouth hopes of nicking a point that were never realised.
The home teams were winners last season, with Rodgers’ Foxes running out 2-0 victors at King Power Stadium on goals by Wes Morgan early and Vardy late. Leicester City are 2-3-0 at home in the top flight versus the Cherries and 3-5-2 overall.
Odds and Ends, per Ladbrokes
To Win: Leicester City 7/10; Draw 29/10; Bournemouth 15/4
Both Teams to Score: Yes 6/10; No 6/5
Over/Under 2.5 Goals: Over 6/10; Under 6/5
First Goal Scorer Leicester City: Vardy 14/5; Iheanacho 4/1; Perez 11/2; Barnes, Maddison 6/1
First Goal Scorer Bournemouth: C. Wilson, Solanke 13/2; King 15/2; H. Wilson 10/1; Fraser 11/1
Anytime Goal Scorer Leicester City: Vardy 19/20; Iheanacho 13/8; Perez 21/10; Maddison 11/5; Barnes 23/10
Anytime Goal-Scorer Bournemouth: C. Wilson, Solanke 5/2; King 14/5; H. Wilson 7/2; Fraser 4/1
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Leicester City 3, Bournemouth 0.
PREDICTED HALFTIME SCORE: Leicester City 2, Bournemouth 0.
PREDICTED FIRST GOAL-SCORER: Youri Tielemans
OTHER EPL MATCH DAY 4 PREVIEWS
Chelsea (1-1-1) vs. Sheffield United (1-1-1)
Manchester City (2-1-0) vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (1-1-1)
Newcastle United (1-0-2) vs. Watford (0-0-3)
Everton (0-2-1) vs. Wolverhampton (0-3-0)
(Ben Chilwell/James Maddison photo courtesy Leicester City official Twitter account)