- Foxes will go 5 points clear with win
- Newcastle second from bottom
- Benitez’s first game in charge of Magpies
- Leicester 17 PL games unbeaten at home
Leicester City host Newcastle United at the King Power Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) with the Foxes hoping to regain a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
The fact that I still can’t quite believe I’m typing that in mid-March says it all.
Claudio Ranieri‘s side have so far defied all the odds to remain on top but after Tottenham closed the gap to just two points with eight games to go, this is crunch time.
On paper, Leicester should romp to victory as they face a Newcastle side who has just two wins on the road all season and has scored the lowest amount of PL away goals (7).
However, the Magpies do have a new man in charge as talented Spanish coach Rafael Benitez replaced Steve McClaren late last week. Benitez, 55, was managing Real Madrid two months ago but has jumped at the chance to try and salvage Newcastle’s season, with the North East giants second-from-bottom and staring relegation in the face.
In team news Leicester have no new injury problems and Riyad Mahrez is fit after a slight hamstring scare, while Newcastle is sweating on the fitness of Fabricio Coloccini and Andros Townsend plus Paul Dummett is out.
What they’re saying
Ranieri not focusing on the title: “For me the favorites are the others still, of course. We have to fight and just at the end we can say: ‘Oh, we achieved this, we are in the Europa League, how fantastic.’ Or: ‘We are in the Champions League, amazing.'”
Benitez believes players possess the required quality: “From what I’ve seen I know we have a very good group of players so we need to give them confidence and from them, I will expect 100 per cent in every game. The players want to impress the new manager and they have the ability to do so. For now we have to be calm, but not too calm, and approach the games one at a time.”
I see this being yet another tight encounter where an away team will come to the KP, sit back and try to hit Leicester on the break. West Brom did it a few weeks ago and Watford almost did it before them but are Newcastle’s defenders good enough to pull this off? I think nerves may play a part and can see a nerve-jangling 1-1 draw playing out.