Return Of Premier League Football - LCFC vs Watford Build Up
This Saturday, Brendan Rodger's Leicester travel to Watford to kick-start their return to competitive football. In order to prepare us fully, Jack Johnson, a new member here at FoxesFancast takes a look at the last few months and previews what we may witness come 12:31pm on Saturday.
The Foxes return to action on Saturday vs Watford - Credit: Getty Images
With the return of the Premier League on the horizon, it seems a good time to refresh the memories of Leicester City fans who have been without football for the past three months.
We are now only a few days away from the restart of Premier League football and the Foxes currently sit in third position with an eight point gap to fifth placed Manchester United. After a successful season so far in both the league and cup, Leicester will be looking to end the campaign in same way.
In the final game before the suspension of the season, Leicester dismantled Aston Villa and claimed a 4-0 win. Two goals each from Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy gave the Foxes revenge after Carabao Cup semi-final heartbreak earlier in the season. This result brought Brendan Rodgers’ side back to winning ways after a four-game winless run in February.
It will be hard to predict how well each team will perform in the unusual circumstances, but a highly contested race for a top four spot is expected to ensue. The Foxes sit in the driving seat and have a large advantage over others, however, Chelsea, Manchester United, Wolves, Sheffield United, Spurs and Arsenal will all be vying for a place in next season’s Champions League. The final nine games of the season will decide how it all plays out.
Throughout the three month enforced break, the club have been heavily affected. Three players were required to enter self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, and it was later revealed that Brendan Rodgers also suffered from the virus during that time. Luckily, all recovered fully from the illness and there have been no more positive cases within the club in the most recent rounds of Premier League testing.
This break also gave a chance for players to rest and clubs sent out specialist personal training methods that each player could complete at home. The adverse conditions largely benefited one player in particular; Ricardo Pereira who suffered an injury to his ACL in the game against Aston Villa and was ruled out for the rest of the season. The break has given the right back time to recover and although he still faces an uphill struggle, there is the slightest chance he may be available in some capacity towards the very end of the season.
The club have now taken part in five weeks of training after being allowed to return to Belvoir Drive, and 11v11 friendlies have began taking place as players look to regain match fitness. James Maddison has spoken out about how well the squad have returned to football. When speaking to LCFC TV he said: “They've come back in such great condition, it's brilliant to see how well they've kept themselves over the period, because some people can get lazy and not do so much when you don't have to actually be here every day, but the lads are in tip top condition and raring to go.” This should breed confidence within the fan base as the team seem to have returned in great spirits and aim to continue their brilliant season so far.
The season returns with new playing conditions. Supporters will no longer be allowed to attend games and the players will have to play with no atmosphere pushing them on. On top of this, each team will be allowed the make an additional two substitutions (now 5) to help with rotation due to the loss of full match fitness during the break.
Fortunately for Leicester, they seem to be well equipped and may be able to cope better than others. It is common knowledge that, over the years, the Foxes have built a brilliant dressing room and camaraderie between the players. Of course the lack of a crowd will have an impact, but this characteristic of the club may be key to maintaining good form as the squad should in theory be able to motivate each other for the games.
As well as this, the squad’s depth has largely improved. Players such as James Justin, Dennis Praet and Kelechi Iheanacho will be chomping at the bit to be involved. Having this sort of desire coming off the bench may give Leicester an advantage, with substitutions expected to make a bigger impact than usual.
So, how could the rest of this season pan out for the Foxes? Rodgers’ side only have to face two teams also involved in the race for the Champions League, which could turn out to be important, becoming more likely to pick up points in games against bottom half of the table competition. Manchester United also have a favourable fixture list so could apply pressure ahead of their final day face-off at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes also have an FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea to consider and if they are to make it to Wembley then the added fixtures could turn out to affect fitness levels, especially given the short rest periods between games.
Although it’s difficult to predict what might be to come, hopefully the Foxes should have enough to maintain their spot within the top four and a second ‘European Tour’ could well be on the cards.
What do you think? Do you agree with Jack's predictions? Where do you expect Leicester to finish?