Leicester host Newcastle in the Monday Night Football, and Mike Norman isn't worried about new manager syndrome putting a spanner in the works of Leicester's title push...
"So on all known form, the fact that Leicester are a superb side, very strong on home soil, and can field a full strength side on Monday night, then they have to be the selection to beat a struggling Newcastle team that is having an abysmal time of things away from home."
Leicester v Newcastle
Live on Sky Sports 1
The Foxes continue to lead the Premier League and since their last defeat - 2-1 at Arsenal a few weeks ago - they've actually increased their advantage at the top of the table to a now massive-looking five points (at the time of writing).
Following that defeat at the Emirates Claudio Ranieri's men took seven points from their next three games. Compare that to their title rivals Tottenham (four points), Arsenal (one point) and Manchester City (four points), and you have to feel that if Leicester needed any help whatsoever in winning this season's Premier League, then they're certainly getting it.
But take nothing away from the magnificent Foxes. They continue to play a refreshing, attacking style of football and there's absolutely no fluke about where they are in the table.
At the King Power Stadium Ranieri's men have avoided defeat in all of their last 10 league games, picking up 22 of a possible 30 points. They've recorded five clean sheets on home soil in their last six matches, and against clubs currently sitting in the bottom six they've played four, won four, in front of their own fans.
Ranieri will again be able to field a full strength side for the visit of Newcastle on Monday night so expect no surprises when the teamsheets are handed in.
Newcastle's season, and injury list, couldn't be any more different to that of Leicester.
The Magpies sit 19th in the table after winning just two of their last 12 league games, both those victories coming at St James' Park, while away from home they've now lost seven consecutive matches in all competitions.
Newcastle's form and complete lack of fight in their most recent defeat to Bournemouth prompted Mike Ashley to end the reign of Steve McClaren, and former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez is the man trusted with the task of keeping the Magpies in the Premier League.
Benitez's first job is to pick a fit side for the trip to Leicester, and that in itself won't be easy given the north-east outfit have the longest injury list in the Premier League currently, though a quartet of the 11 players currently injured - Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote, Andros Townsend, and Papiss Cisse - are close to a return and could figure on Monday night.
Leicester are overwhelming favourites to win the game at 1.645/8 but even that price appeals as a value wager if we can ignore the extra ingredient that this match now has.
One of the biggest spanners that can be thrown into the works of football betting is a manager being sacked, or a new manager arriving, just before a game. That's what we have here, and with it brings the possibility of the bounce factor, new manager syndrome, call it what you like. But time after time we see a club's form dramatically improve immediately after a managerial change.
But in the few instances when I've had to form an opinion on a football match in such circumstances I've preferred just to judge it for what it is. What will be will be as they say.
So on all known form, the fact that Leicester are a superb side, very strong on home soil, and can field a full strength side on Monday night, then they have to be the selection to beat a struggling Newcastle team that is having an abysmal time of things away from home.
Benitez's men can be backed at 6.05/1 to win the game with the Draw available to back at 4.3100/30, but I was extremely confident about a home win before McClaren was sacked and I have to maintain that confidence now that he has gone.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
At the prices Under 2.5 Goals at 2.186/5 looks the best call in this market, though admittedly you can make a strong case either way.
As mentioned above Leicester haven't been conceding many at the King Power Stadium recently and only two of their last seven home matches have witnessed at least three goals. Newcastle's poor away form has also resulted in a spate of low-scoring affairs - four of their recent defeats ended 1-0 in fact, so it's hard to have any huge confidence in backing Over 2.5 Goals at 1.845/6 here.
I believe the market has the prices about right however, and it's not one that I want to get heavily involved in.
Leicester Win to Nil
A chance is definitely worth taking on the Foxes winning without conceding, which should be available to back at around 3.02/1 closer to kick-off.
Ranieri's men have tightened up massively since their early-season 'you score two, we'll score three' mentality, and of their last six victories, five of them have been achieved to nil. They won without conceding against some decent sides in that sequence - Liverpool, Spurs, Stoke for example - while the only goal they did concede was away at Man City, late in the game when leading 3-0.
It remains to be seen how Newcastle go about matters under Benitez but I sense the new boss will set his side up to avoid defeat at all costs here and give him something to build on, rather than play an open game against clearly a better side.
Newcastle have lost without scoring at Stoke, Everton, Arsenal, Watford (cup), and West Brom away from home in recent months, while the only two goals they managed on the road came late in games at Chelsea and Watford (league) when defeat looked inevitable.
Back Leicester to Win @ 1.645/8
Back Leicester Win to Nil @ 3.02/1