English Premier League Season Preview: Leicester City

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Craig Shakespeare begins his first full season in charge of Leicester City following the shock dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in February, and kicks off the new campaign with a trip to Arsenal.

Leicester City returned a mixed bag of results in pre-season, including losses to Championship opposition Wolves and Burton Albion, but finished things off nicely with a 2-1 win against Borussia Monchengladbach.

leicester city
Leicester City have experimented with several strike partners for Jamie Vardy over the past few seasons; a combination with Shinji Okazaki worked wonders in their title-winning season, with the occasional input from Leonardo Ulloa, while last seasons additions of Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani didn’t quite have the same effect.

Jamie Vardy bagged both goals against the Bundesliga side, and though that would appear to suggest that once again The Foxes go into a campaign with the Englishman bearing the weight of expectation to produce the final product, Leicester have bolstered their attack with the signing of Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho for £25 million.

The Nigerian selflessly squared up Vardy for his second goal against the Germans, and looks set to form an energetic and pacey partnership with the England international. The 20-year-old faced an injury scare ahead of the Arsenal clash, but Shakespeare handed his side a boost by confirming that he is fit and ready for Friday night.

One new player who won’t be joining Iheanacho in the squad is Vicente Iborra, who joined from Sevilla for £10.5 million. The Spanish midfielder suffered a groin strain in training and will miss the next two weeks of action.

Hull City centre-half Harry Maguire was another key signing for Shakespeare, and one to ease the defensive burden off the aging shoulders of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Leicester continued their minor raid of Hull with the signing of Swiss goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, who will likely deputise for Kasper Schmeichel when needed.

Foxes regular and reported Chelsea target Danny Drinkwater sits out with a thigh injury, and will miss one week, while Papy Mendy, Islam Slimani and Robert Huth have all returned to training.

Predicted XI vs. Arsenal:

leicester city
A Jamie Vardy-Kelechi Iheanacho partnership would suggest an attack-minded approach on Friday night, and Shakespeare may prefer Shinji Okazaki if he wants one of the forwards to drop and form more of a 4-4-1-1 set-up. Danny Drinkwater’s absence provides another opportunity for Matty James, who hasn’t featured regularly for The Foxes since 2014/15 and spent last season on loan at Barnsley. Harry Maguire should start alongside Wes Morgan as Robert Huth builds fitness, while Demarai Gray starts over wantaway winger Riyad Mahrez.

Leicester City fans couldn’t have imagined a more difficult start to the upcoming season; their opening day trip to The Emirates will soon be followed by a trip to Old Trafford to meet Manchester United, while they welcome Premier League champions Chelsea and Liverpool to the King Power Stadium before September’s end.

Leicester City’s August and September EPL Fixtures:

leicester cityvs. Arsenal (A) – Friday August 11, 2017

leicester cityvs. Brighton & Hove Albion (H) – Saturday August 19, 2017

leicester cityvs. Manchester United (A) – Saturday August 26, 2017

leicester cityvs. Chelsea (H) – Saturday September 9, 2017

leicester cityvs. Huddersfield Town (A) – Saturday September 16, 2017 

leicester cityvs. Liverpool (H) – Saturday September 23, 2017

 

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