Claude Puel

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PL preview: Leicester City vs. Man City

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  • Man City unbeaten in the PL (10W-1D-0L)
  • 38 goals scored in 11 games; 16 in their last 4
  • Leicester unbeaten in last 5 games (2W-3D-0L)

It took an early-season managerial change, but Leicester City have managed to turn around another spiraling-out-of-control campaign in recent weeks, only to return from the international break as Pep Guardiola‘s irresistible Manchester City side makes its yearly visit to the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

After winning just one of their first eight Premier League games this season, Leicester made the bold decision to fire Craig Shakespeare four months into his tenure as the club’s full-time manager. In came former Southampton boss Claude Puel, who has a win and a draw in his first two games in charge (on the back of a win in Michael Appleton’s lone game as interim manager). With seven points from three games following Shakespeare’s dismissal, the Foxes sit on 13 points and are suddenly up to 12th in the PL table.

A little further up the table — say, the very top by a wide(ning) margin — you’ll find Man City, winners of 15 straight in all competitions (nine in the PL), scorers of 15 more goals than the next closest side, and runaway title favorites just past the quarter mark of the 2017-18 season. This is what Guardiola was hired to do at City, and he’s delivering a year or two ahead of schedule.

The only thing likely to stop City from running away with the title would be a series of injuries and/or health scares felling key figures — the first of which nearly occurred this week, as star striker Sergio Aguero fainted during halftime of Argentina’s friendly against Nigeria. Aguero has since returned to Manchester and been given a “perfect” bill of healthy by the club’s medical staff (see below). City’s new all-time leading goalscorer, Aguero has eight in eight PL games and leads a side currently on pace to score 131 goals this season.

What they’re saying

Claude Puel, on Guardiola and his new job: “He is a great manager, a fantastic manager. His teams keep possession and they counter attack well. They are the best team in Europe in this moment. … It is amazing. I am enjoying it because the feeling of the players is very good. They work with attention and a good focus.”

Pep Guardiola, on Aguero and other injuries: “The doctor says he’s perfect. He was conscious all the time in Argentina and he’s okay. Nothing to be worried about. … I have something in mind to replace (Nicolas) Otamendi. We have (Eliaquim) Mangala, maybe Kompany can come back. Kyle (Walker) can play there. … I don’t know if (Fabian) Delph will able to play because in four sessions this week, he trained two. Hopefully we can recover him, because he is so important.”

INJURIES: Leicester — OUT: Robert Huth (foot); QUESTIONABLE: Vicente Iborra (ankle) | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Raheem Sterling (back), Vincent Kompany (calf), Fabian Delph (calf)

Prediction

While Leicester have seen an uptick in results of late, their defensive record remains spotty, at best, against sides induce far less terror than Man City. The game should set up in Leicester’s favor, though: City will have 70 or so percent of possession, which means more than a few chances to hit them on the counter. There’s a 10 percent chance Leicester get something from this one, and a 90 percent chance City turn them into just another statistic.

Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Leicester City

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  • Foxes 3W-2D-1L vs. Stoke since promotion
  • Vardy 3 goals in last 4 vs. Stoke
  • Leicester leads all-time 34W-33D-31L

Two clubs who’ve climbed off the mat look to keep ascending the Premier League table when Stoke City hosts Leicester City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

Leicester is up to 11th following a convincing win over Everton, while Stoke is out of the drop zone after a surprising victory at Watford.

The Foxes are, perhaps quietly, unbeaten in four and winners of two on the bounce. New boss Claude Puel is a pristine 1-0 and relishing the concept of getting Leicester closer to European qualification than another drop zone battle.

USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is out for Stoke City.

What they’re saying

Stoke’s Mark Hughes on a table rise“We know how important it is to get two wins on the bounce in the Premier League and that is certainly our intention this weekend. A couple of wins can propel you up the table and of course when you win an away game then obviously you want to follow that up with a good performance and a good result at home. We need to do that because the biggest disappointment for everybody was the Bournemouth result which was our first opportunity against a team that were below us.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on the club’s short-term future“We continue to try to work on some details in the training sessions. It is an evolution not a revolution. We cannot change everything in just a few days. It is important to continue this work and continue to have some good habits with the players so they can play with confidence with good habits. We have time to work gradually and improve together. Now is just to make natural things without disturbing them.”

Prediction

Breaking down Leicester hasn’t been easy, and Stoke’s proven capable of being breached. The Potteries will be behind its men, and the hosts may well walk away with a 1-1 draw.

Puel, Vardy impressed with convincing defeat of Everton

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Leicester City looked pretty darn good on Sunday.

Part of that could be down to the visitors, as Everton continues to look rudderless even after firing Ronald Koeman.

[ RECAP: Leicester 2-0 Everton ]

But Leicester has a new boss of its own in former Southampton leader Claude Puel, and match-winner Jamie Vardy explained what’s changed since the firing of Craig Shakespeare.

Turns out not too much. From the BBC:

“The gaffer’s come in this week. He said this week he didn’t want to change too much – just tactical tweaks.”

“We hit them on the counter for the first goal. Gray got on the ball and split them open. We showed we are capable of defending a lead. The main thing is we got three points.”

Gray refers to Demarai, who was also credited for a goal when Jonjoe Kenny flubbed a clearing attempt of his cross into the Everton goal.

As for Puel, his verdict was glowing after meeting his new backers at the King Power Stadium.

“I was impressed with my players. It was a very good first half and there were good combinations between the players for the first goal.”

“I saw a team with a good attitude and good structure and solidarity. I want to say thanks to our fantastic fans for their warm welcome. It was a day that was perfect but it’s just the beginning I hope of something.”

It’s a fine start, that’s for sure. The Foxes are now 11th ahead of a visit from Stoke City next week.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Leicester City 2-0 Everton: Puel wins debut

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  • Puel wins first PL start
  • Gray boasts MOTM performance
  • Vardy scores

Jamie Vardy‘s counter attack goal led the way as new Leicester City boss Claude Puel oversaw a 2-0 win in his debut at King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Demarai Gray also scored with big help from Everton’s Jonjoe Kenny as Leicester rose 11th with 12 points, keeping Everton in the drop zone on goal differential.

Everton caretaker boss David Unsworth kept Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin out of the Starting XI, only using the Icelandic star as a 74th minute substitute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester won an early corner, and another when Ashley Williams blocked Wes Morgan‘s back post effort.

Demarai Gray then cut back from the end line for Ben Chilwell inside the 18, but a difficult shot couldn’t be kept under the bar.

The Foxes deservedly went ahead with a goal hearkening back to the glory days of 2016-17. Puel watched his new charges counter a free kick through Gray, who cued up a classic Riyad Mahrez to Vardy connection. 1-0, 19′.

Vardy mishit an effort to return the favor three minutes later, and Everton nearly found an equalizer when Wayne Rooney and Aaron Lennon cued up a chance that Dominic Calvert-Lewin flubbed.

Jonjoe Kenny helped make it 2-0 when he making a mess of Gray’s cross to defy the reach of Jordan Pickford. For some reason, it was not ruled an own goal.

The Toffees were denied a sure penalty when Christian Fuchs chopped down Lennon inside the 18, but no call came from Andre Marriner nor his linesman.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rooney should’ve had a second assist when his delightful ball found Oumar Niasse, but a poor touch helped Kasper Schmeichel collect.

Calvert-Lewin produced an inviting ball in the 65th minute, but Wes Morgan popped it over his own bar.

Follow @NicholasMendola

PL Sunday preview: New bosses battle; Brighton vs. Saints

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The battle of Leicester City and Everton’s newly installed managers is the highlights of Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures, but not before PL new boys Brighton & Hove Albion host Southampton in a south-coast derby.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Brighton vs. Southampton — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

All three of this year’s newly promoted sides — Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town — entered the 10th weekend of the season as a top-12 side. On Sunday, it’s Brighton, who finished a close second to Newcastle in the Championship last season, who reunite an old rivalry with a fellow south-coast side, Southampton, at Falmer Stadium. Through sheer consistency, the Seagulls have established themselves as a functional top-flight side.

“What we have done over these nine games is we have been in every game,” Brighton boss Chris Hughton said this week. “Even the games against Manchester City and Arsenal, both games we have lost 2-0, but we were in the game. If there is any statement, it is that we should not be frightened of the challenges we have and I think we have got enough quality and desire in the squad to make a good account of ourselves in any games. Whether that wins you enough games, that is different. It is goals that win you games and at the moment we are doing OK.”

Saints, meanwhile, are still adjusting to life under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino, as they’ve won just one of their last four in the PL and the goals still aren’t coming. The lack of scoring is a trend that carried over from last season under Claude Puel, when Southampton scored just 41 times en route to an eighth-place finish. That lone victory came on their last outing, though, courtesy of Sofiane Boufal’s brilliant individual effort, so perhaps brighter days are indeed on the horizon.

INJURIES: Brighton — OUT: Steve Sidwell (back), Beram Kayal (fitness), Sam Baldock (fitness) | Southampton — OUT: Mario Lemina (ankle)

[ MORE: England top Spain, win U-17 World Cup ]

Leicester City vs. Everton — 12 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com

First went Craig Shakespeare on Oct. 17, followed in short order by Ronald Koeman six days later. Leicester and Everton, respectively, were second and third to fire a manager during the 2017-18 PL season (more than a month after Crystal Palace sent Frank De Boer packing), and now the two sides face off on Sunday. Former Saints boss Puel is the new man in charge at the King Power Stadium, site of Sunday’s clash, while David Unsworth hopes to impress Toffees owner Farhad Moshiri during game no. 1 of his trial run as interim manager.

After nine games played, both sides are nearer to the relegation zone than they would have imagined this season, as Leicester currently sit 15th, a point ahead of 18th-place Everton.

“It is not about me or any individual, it is about us as a team and club coming together and showing the fighting spirit and commitment we had throughout that 90 minutes,” Unsworth said this week. “Even at 2-0 we kept going and got the goal. You could see the work rate, spirit and commitment — that is what we are looking for. We can iron out issues and problems and it is a great start, something to really build and work on.”

Leicester were victorious in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, knocking of Championship side Leeds United 3-1 on Tuesday. 21-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first goal (to go with an assist) for the Foxes after arriving from Manchester City in the summer to give Puel something more to consider when he picks his first starting lineup on Sunday.

INJURIES: Leicester — OUT: Robert Huth (foot), Matty James (achilles) | Everton — OUT: Ross Barkley (hamstring), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), Yannick Bolasie (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Morgan Schneiderlin (illness)