- Foxes unbeaten in five vs. Stoke
- Drew 2-2 at the Potteries on Nov. 4
- Leicester leads all-time 34W-34D-31L
Leicester City can rejoin the Top Seven with a win and help on Friday when it hosts relegation-threatened Stoke City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
The Foxes sit eighth in the Premier League table, a point back of Burnley (The Clarets host Southampton on Saturday)
Stoke, meanwhile, is two points back of safety. The half-full glass says the Potters have only lost once since Paul Lambert took over as boss, but the half-empty one sees draws against Watford and Brighton to go a loss at Bournemouth.
What they’re saying
Leicester boss Claude Puel on Stoke’s fortunes: “Shaqiri can make the difference and at the moment they play well with a good fighting spirit. I think they play good football on the floor. When they recover the ball they try to get in behind and make good pressing on the opponent. Shaqiri has more freedom and plays between the lines and they are a good team at this moment.”
Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri on Paul Lambert’s style: “He has a German mentality with his teams… I’m really glad he came here. With German teams they always sit together – there are no phones on the table. It’s brought us more together – when you eat together you have to speak more to other team-mates who you don’t normally speak to. It’s a good thing.”
Phone ban or no, it will take improved communication to deal with Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Adrien Silva. Leicester gets another win, 3-0.
By many accounts, Riyad Mahrez was not just back to his fine-playing ways in his King Power Stadium return on Friday but a veritable Man of the Match.
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Leicester knocked Sheffield United out of the FA Cup and moved into the quarterfinals on a Jamie Vardy goal, but it was their Algerian wizard pulling the strings in his first home match since Deadline Day drama saw him leave the team.
Foxes boss Claude Puel has talked up Mahrez since early in his tenure at King Power, and hasn’t stopped just because the player is unsettled. From the BBC:
“The most important thing in the game was the fans supported Riyad and when I replaced him, it was a good feeling with the fans. It’s important to stay united about this, it’s a good thing and we can move on.
“The situation is behind us, it’s important to look forward. Now we have two home games in the Premier League and it’s important to get the support of the fans. We need to come back in the Premier League with conviction.”
Seventh place in the Premier League and a possible spot in the Europa League remain possible for the Foxes, who are just a point behind Burnley and reasonably sizing up Everton as a more legit combatant for the slot.
An FA Cup win would be another route to Europe, and many of the Foxes are still quite familiar with giant killing. Mahrez being committed and back in the picture could be huge.
Riyad Mahrez has been welcomed back with open arms at Leicester City – again – after his self-imposed leave following a failed move to Manchester City in January.
The 26-year-old was absent for 10 days in early February, before returning to make an appearance in the blowout loss to Manchester City this past weekend.
“Sometimes some players can make a mistake,” said manager Claude Puel on Sunday, according to the Leicester Mercury. “It was the first time for him and it was a mistake but the most important thing is to look forward and put it right. He is fantastic player for us, his team-mates and the fans. It is a pleasure to watch him. It is important we continue together.”
It may have been the first time Mahrez flat out left the club in protest, but it’s not the first time he’s tried to force a move away from the King Power Stadium. Back in the summer, Mahrez looked to push himself away from the Foxes with Arsenal and Roma pursuing a transfer, but nothing came of it.
After his absence in recent weeks, Mahrez released a statement claiming “Leicester City were always aware of my whereabouts,” but Puel’s words seem to indirectly dispute that, with the manager referring to Mahrez’s departure as a “mistake.”
Leicester City has an FA Cup match against Sheffield United at home on Friday, while they return to Premier League action against Stoke City the following weekend. Mahrez would likely return to action in one of those games barring injury in training.
Leicester City will be without star playmaker Riyad Mahrez once again this weekend.
The Foxes head to play Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) with Mahrez the subject of a huge bid from Man City on transfer deadline day on Jan. 31.
That bid, thought to be worth in-excess of $90 million in cash and a player heading to Leicester, was flat out rejected by Leicester and Mahrez missed training since and hasn’t played in their last three games.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Leicester boss Claude Puel confirmed Mahrez won’t play on Saturday but didn’t confirm if Mahrez has been away from the training ground for the past week.
“There is no news. I hope Riyad can get his head right and to come back with us and to hard work. The best way is to come and to enjoy his football,” Puel said. “Riyad is a magnificent player and he loves football. He loves his relationship with his friends and team-mates. He needs to come back and to play, to touch the ball.”
“I don’t want to comment and give details of our relationship with Riyad,” Puel added. “It is important to all details remain inside the club and not in the public. I can understand all this speculation. I think it is important in this difficult time to keep all players, and club, united. Together, to look forward and continue the hard work on the pitch.”
Leicester are trying to deal with this situation behind closed doors amid reports that Mahrez is “depressed” and struggling to come to terms with not being able to join the Premier League leaders, despite handing in a transfer request and wanting to leave Leicester in each of the last four transfer windows.
Mahrez’s situation at Leicester is becoming increasingly tricky and this feels like he’s trying to force through a move by basically downing tools.
- Vardy wins, converts PK
- Mahrez puts win to bed
- Fifth-straight Leicester clean sheet
- Foxes go 7th
- Watford one win in 11 PL matches
Claude Puel‘s Leicester City revolution remains pointed upward, as the Foxes moved seventh with a 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez scored for Leicester City, whose 34 points are level with Burnley.
The loss leaves the Hornets just three points clear of the drop zone with 26 points.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
An early chance for Jamie Vardy was denied by Watford backstop Orestis Karnezis, and Shinji Okazaki couldn’t sort himself for the rebound.
The Hornets asserted themselves in looking for an equalizer, as Marco Silva made changes and had three strikers on the pitch at the end of the match.
Karnezis made a two-fisted stop on Wilfried Ndidi as the match neared 90 minutes, allowing Watford late oxygen.
The hope was suffocated by Mahrez’s strike minutes later, as Leicester moved up the table again when Adrien Silva played the Algerian through to dazzle with a fine goal.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
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