Leicester move into the crucial January period hoping to pick up some vital points against many of the teams that are in and around the relegation scrap. Many pundits would call these 6 pointers and though it is only January, the awful run the foxes went on before Christmas arguably does make these game 6 pointers.
Since Christmas Nigel Pearson’s side have hit a small patch of form and it needs to continue if they are to avoid being cast adrift. They enter this crucial period with a game against an Aston Villa side whose fans are starting to get a bit restless with manager Paul Lambert.
Leicester have been active in the transfer market picking up Mark Schwarzer from Chelsea. The veteran Australian joins with question marks against how long regular incumbent Kasper Schmeichel will be out for with his broken leg. With Hamer having deputised, the Foxes look to be moving away the inexperienced former Charlton keeper and It is expected that Schwarzer will take up that place on Saturday afternoon behind the back four.
Injuries are piling up for Leicester, particularly in Midfield with Cambiasso joining both Hammond and Drinkwater on the physio’s table. With wingers Mahrez and Schlupp both out too, the Foxes are light in midfield and should any of the trio of Hammond, Cambiasso and Drinkwater be in with a chance of playing then expect Nigel Pearson to take a risk on their fitness.
Hammond looks to be the nearest to a return and his excellent early season form could be good for the Foxes at the moment. Andy King is also in line to return, so both could line up alongside Matty James in the midfield for the Foxes
Leicester have also dipped into the transfer market to break their transfer record with the purchase of Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric for a cool 9 million, proving the Thai owners are keen to back Nigel Pearson in the long run.
Unfortunately the transfer is subject to a work permit which has yet to be granted and so Villa will come too soon for the in form Croatian, who chose Leicester over Chelsea, thanks to the offer of regular football rather than joining Chelsea and being shipped out on loan.
That means that both Ulloa and Nugent will get another chance to stake their claim to line up alongside Kramaric once his work permit goes through. Both have distinctive qualities to add to the Foxes and will be looking to get back out of the relegation zone as soon as possible.
For Aston Villa, they are still without the injured Ron Vlaar, as well as Fabian Delph who is still banned but Leicester’s chief tormenter in recent games, Gabby Agbonlahor is set to return from injury.
If Leicester get an early goal, and the Villa fans get on their players backs quickly, like they have in recent weeks, it would be quite easy for the cash strapped Birmingham side to go into their shells and manager Paul Lambert will need to ensure his side remain upbeat.
Prediction – Leicester to sneak a 2-1 win and get back in with a shout of staying up, thanks to goals from Ulloa and King, with Villa’s goal coming from Agbonlahor. Villa will likely be drawn back into the relegation scrap.