Leicester v Newcastle: Open game in prospect with vital points up for grabs

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side will have to be on their guard

Andrew Atherley says goals are likely in the Friday night match at the King Power...

"Both teams have scored in eight of Leicester's last 11 league games. Overall that has occurred in 18 out of 34 this season, ranking them joint-fourth in the Premier League."

Recommended Bet
Both teams to score at 1.9720/21

Leicester v Newcastle
Friday 7 May, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports

Leicester refreshed

Both teams are within touching distance of their end-of-season target, although Leicester probably are in more urgent need of three points to bolster their position in the Champions League places.

Brendan Rodgers' side lie third on 63 points and might need to reach 71 to be sure of a top-four finish. They are in a strong position but this is an important match before they face Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in their last three games.

Rodgers suggested tiredness was a factor for last week's inability to press home their advantage in a 1-1 draw against ten-man Southampton, but his players have had seven days to recover since then and he should be able to put out a strong side spearheaded in the attacking positions by Kelechi Iheanacho, Jamie Vardy and James Maddison.

The most likely change to the starting XI is at wing-back, with Ricardo Pereira set to come in on the right, allowing Timothy Castagne to switch to the left in place of Luke Thomas.

Attacking positives

Newcastle are nine points clear of the relegation zone with four matches to play and are unlikely to be dragged down but mathematically they still need four points to be safe.

Steve Bruce's side face Fulham on the final day of the season and will certainly want to have secured safety by then, averting a potential winner-takes-all showdown.

Bruce was able to pair Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin up front for the first time in three months against Arsenal last weekend, although it was to no avail in a 2-0 home defeat.

Those attackers remain a big positive for Bruce, however, and another is the availability of on-loan Joe Willock, who was unable to play against his parent club last weekend.

Fabian Schar, a second-half substitute in the Arsenal match, is suspended after his late red card.

Hosts vulnerable on counter

Leicester rank joint-second for home wins with nine (bettered only by Manchester City's 12) but they have also lost eight times out of 17 at the King Power, a total exceeded by just four teams. That highlights some risk in backing the hosts to win at 1.454/9.

Most of Leicester's home defeats have come against teams adept at counter-attacking and that is an attribute possessed by Newcastle when Wilson and Saint-Maximin are in the starting XI, which means Rodgers' side will have to be on their guard here.

It is worth noting that three of Leicester's first four home defeats were to nil but their only blank since has been against Manchester City in a 2-0 loss just over a month ago.

Whereas the Foxes' occasional weakness early in the season was an inability to find the net when off colour, that is less of an issue now but they can leave themselves open to the counter.

That is backed up by the fact that both teams have scored in eight of Leicester's last 11 league games. Overall that has occurred in 18 out of 34 this season, ranking them joint-fourth in the Premier League.

Newcastle are above them in that list, with both teams having scored in 19 of their 34 matches, and their chances of getting on the scoresheet look pretty good. The Magpies have scored in six of the nine Premier League games where Wilson and Saint-Maximin have started together this season.

At the other end Newcastle have kept only one clean sheet in those nine matches (way back on the opening weekend in a 2-0 win at West Ham) and this has the potential to be an open game.

The main counter-argument to that view is that Leicester at their best are capable of blowing away lesser sides, as they proved with recent big home wins over Sheffield United (5-0) and West Brom (3-0).

Punters who fancy Leicester strongly should consider backing them off -1.5 on the Asian handicap at 2.3411/8, which requires them to win by two or more goals.

Newcastle certainly are prone to collapse, having lost 12 times by at least a two-goal margin (more than any other team in the Premier League), but the firm impression is that they are a different side with their best attacking players on the pitch.

With the Magpies having scored in 11 of their last 15 Premier League games, both teams to score at 1.9720/21 makes most appeal.

Attractive odds for goals

Leicester rank second for matches with over 2.5 goals, having had 59% overall and a league-high 65% at home. Over 2.5 goals is available at 1.824/5 and those odds are quite attractive.

Iheanacho, their in-form striker, has been involved in 11 goals in his last eight Premier League appearances (nine goals, two assists) and has scored in five of his last seven home games in all competitions.

Newcastle are mid-table for goals with 53% of their games having had under 2.5. The figures are dragged down by their away performances with 71% under 2.5 on the road but are better with Wilson and Saint-Maximin in the side (56% over 2.5 goals).

Opta Stat

Leicester City have won just one of their 11 Premier League games played on a Friday (D4 L6), with that being their famous 9-0 victory over Southampton last season. At home, the Foxes have drawn one and lost two of their three Friday Premier League games, with two of those coming against Newcastle United (1-1 December 2003, 0-1 April 2019). Newcastle are 3.1511/5 on double chance.

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