Leicester City travel to Villa Park for the live game on Sunday afternoon on Sky Sports, knowing a win is much needed after going 9 games without a win, heaping pressure onto Nigel Pearson, who is teetering with the sack.
Pearson will be well aware that football is a results orientated business, but will expect a modicum of support from the Thai owners after leading Leicester back to the Premier league. There is little on offer in regards to replacements outside of the obvious names like Tony Pulis or Tim Sherwood but these do not inspire the fans and that alone may afford Pearson the necessary time to turn it around.
Sitting bottom of the table, they travel to fellow strugglers Aston Villa without influential captain Wes Morgan, who is suspended for the trip after receiving a red card midweek against Liverpool.
With Matthew Upson primed to return over the Christmas period, it looks highly likely that youngster Liam Moore will return to the centre of defence alongside Marcin Wasilewski in Morgan’s absence, but fans may relish a shake up across the back with other changes possible. We could finally see the introduction of former Newcastle and QPR full-back Danny Simpson, giving Ritchie De Laet a welcome rest.
Goals have been a problem since the impressive home win against Man Utd back in September and record signing Leo Ulloa is on a drought he will be looking to end against an Aston Villa side who themselves are short of goals.
Whilst Ulloa is no doubt putting the effort in, the lack of goals from the Argentine and fellow strikers David Nugent and Jamie Vardy is a worry for Pearson, who will be keen to recruit in the January transfer window if the goals don’t start to flow.
Across the midfield, there seems to be some confused thinking with exciting wingers Riyad Mahrez and Anthony Knockaert, chasing both form and game time respectively. There have been rumours of a fallout between Pearson and Knockaert, but if that is the case then both will need to swallow their pride for the good of the side.
The introduction of the legendary Esteban Cambiasso into the side has also come at the cost of the exciting partnership formed between Matty James and Danny Drinkwater and a welcome return to the combination that earned the club promotion, could ignite the side. There is no doubt having Cambiasso around can only improve the side but his role would be better suited as an impact substitute.
Throughout the side, there are players searching for form, including the goalkeeper Schmeichel and there has been significant improvement over the last three games, which has resulted in only one point but the hope of some renewed vigour in the side could see an upturn in the fortunes.
No one expected the season to go smoothly and a relegation fight was expected, even though there was optimism, the dreaded drop would be avoided. Games like the Villa match are often described as a six pointer but it is perhaps too early for this to be considered.
But Leicester need to turn around there fortune and fast, in order not to get cast adrift and three points on Sunday will see Leicester go into the busy festive period with hope of moving out of the bottom three.
Prediction – 2-1 Leicester – Back Leicester to revive their season and Leo Ulloa to return to the goal scoring ranks in a tight game at Villa Park.