In-form Swansea travel to play a Leicester side dealing with the hangover of the aborted Riyad Mahrez transfer and it may be left to Leicester's other big star Jamie Vardy to be the key goal threat for the hosts, says Jamie Pacheco.
"The England man is in good form with five goals in his last eight games which included three penalties. Whether Mahrez plays or not he’ll likely continue to be on penalty duty, which is a bonus when we’re backing him to score his team’s first goal."
Leicester v Swansea
Saturday February 3 15:00 GMT
When will Mahrez be back?
The obvious place to start is with Riyad Mahrez. He obviously wanted to go to Manchester City in search of trophies and Champions league football, the club was prepared to sell him at the right price but in the end City and Leicester weren't able to agree on a fee and it fell through. He'll have to be 'rehabilitated' within the squad and put his disappointment behind him sooner rather than later but this match might yet be too soon. It's a shame this was an issue at all because the tricky Algerian was in the best form he's been for the last 18 months.
But another Algerian player did leave. Striker Islam Slimani went on loan to Newcastle and that wasn't that surprising after he just never settled in his first season and a half at the club. Leonardo Ulloa also left but that was a bit of an irrelevance, having played just 13 minutes all season.
In midweek they went down to a Theo Walcott brace at Everton where they were without Mahrez as the 'will he won't he?' saga unfolded. Jamie Vardy scored his 11th of the goal on the night from the penalty spot.
Ayew brothers will be key
Every season a couple of Managers of teams in trouble are sacked at this time of year and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
There's a long way to go for Carlos Carvalhal and Swansea of course as odds of [2.2] for the drop suggest- only Huddersfield are shorter at [1.64]. But no-one at the club could have asked for a better return than six points taken from home meetings against Liverpool and Arsenal. Belief goes a long way in football and those two wins would have given them plenty of that.
Andre Ayew returns to Swansea to team up with brother Jordan and they'll be crucial in keeping the side up. Wilfried Bony, also in his second season at the club, hasn't got going as of yet while Tammy Abraham has seriously gone off the boil after a good start.
Foxes love playing the Swans
It's hard to argue with Leicester's quote of [1.8]. They're 11 points better off than their opponents and have an excellent record against the Swans. They're unbeaten against this lot in all of their last 13 in all competitions; it's five wins for the Foxes from the last six times they've played them, as Opta tell us.
One can also take the view that one (or two, to be more precise) swallow doesn't make a summer. Those two Swansea wins were superb but they were both at home. And in the first it was a proper backs-to-the-wall job and in the second they benefited from some bad individual errors from Arsenal.
The draw is [3.8] and with Swansea's momentum with and the likely absence of Mahrez, Carvalhal may just be eyeing up that very outcome. It's certainly not out of the question. Especially when you consider how important the Algerian has been in matches against Leicester- he's been involved in give goals in his last five games against them, with four goals and an assist (Opta again).
High-scoring Leicester games of late
If you're looking at short-term results, you might think there's a bit of value about going over 2.5 goals. Eight of Leicester's last 10 games have had at least three goals whereas for Swansea it's five from their last 10 that have gone 'overs'. With that in mind you'd expect overs to be slight favourite but it's not. It's [2.12] and that looks somewhat appealing.
You can get 11/10 on that man Vardy scoring at anytime and 16/5 on him being first goalscorer. But there's a better way of siding with Vardy than those two bets. The England man is in good form with five goals in his last eight games which included three penalties. Whether Mahrez plays or not he'll likely continue to be on penalty duty, which is a bonus when we're backing him to score his team's first goal.
It wouldn't be completely out of the question if Swansea struck first and if that's the case, our bet is still in play.
Anthony Taylor takes charge, a man averaging just under four yellows a game. Swansea's Leroy Fer won't enjoying seeing him on the pitch; he sent him off against Wolves in the FA Cup a few weeks ago.
Staked: 33.5 pts
Returned: 29.35 pts
P and L: -4.15