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Report: Evans set to join Leicester via $10m release clause

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Jonny Evans isn’t going far from West Bromwich Albion, and for quite a discount (so to speak)

The Northern Irish center back, 30, will reportedly have a medical at Leicester City in the next 48 hours ahead of a move to join Claude Puel‘s Foxes.

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Evans was linked with moves to Manchester City and former club Manchester United last season, but instead will reportedly try his hand at Premier League life just an hour’s drive from the Hawthorns after West Brom met a near $10 million release clause.

That’s at least less than half than the reported bid of Pep Guardiola last summer.

Leicester City’s stout back line of its Premier League championship season has taken significant steps back, with the Foxes partly addressing it with the addition of Harry Maguire last season.

Maguire, 25, was strong last season as Wes Morgan struggled and Robert Huth made just one appearance.

Evans won three Premier League titles while making nearly 200 appearances for Manchester United, leaving in 2015 for West Brom.

This would be a nice addition for Leicester, whose defending cost it a bid to return to European competition.

Burnley 2-1 Leicester City: Clarets keep up European pace

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  • Burnley wins 5th-straight PL match
  • Clarets have firm grip on seventh
  • Vardy scores again in loss

Chris Wood and Kevin Long scored and Burnley held through Leicester City’s furious fight back for a 2-1 win at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Jamie Vardy scored for the eighth place Foxes, now nine points back of the Clarets.

Burnley can taste the Europa League. Provided Southampton fails to win the FA Cup, seventh place will mean UEL football.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was the Kiwi who started the scoring, Wood getting a ball from Ashley Barnes off a Wes Morgan turnover. Kasper Schmeichel stopped his first attempt, but Barnes trapped the rebound and slotted from a tight angle.

It was 2-0 within two minutes, a Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson corner kick headed home by the big man Long.

The 27th minute saw Leicester snap into the fray with Ben Chilwell crossing for Vardy, but the Englishman could not get enough on the effort.

Nick Pope made an unreal save on Mahrez, somehow trapping the ball between his upper thighs as the Algerian attempted to head between the Burnley keeper’s legs.

Pope then collected a Vardy header in first half stoppage to preserve the two-goal advantage.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Guðmundsson bid to beat Schmeichel with his left peg in the 55th minute, but it sailed just over the goal.

Pope made a fine diving save on Vardy in the 62nd, leading to a corner the keeper collected with ease.

Fousseni Diabate took a hit to find Vardy for the goal, with Pope only able to get a hand on the English international’s 20th in all competitions.

Leicester City 1-2 Newcastle United: Magpies nearly safe

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  • Newcastle moves into top half
  • Shelvey dummies to open scoring
  • Perez with goal, assist

Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez scored on either side of halftime to give Newcastle United another three points with a 2-1 win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Jamie Vardy scored late for Leicester, who remains eighth with 43 points.

The Magpies are 10th, ahead of Bournemouth on goal differential and 10 points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors looked good from the start, with Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel needed to stop Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle in the first 10 minutes.

The Magpies went ahead through Shelvey, who took a pass from Perez and cooked Harry Maguire en route to the right corner of the goal (with a small turn off a Leicester defender’s arm).

Maguire hit Gayle in the face moments later, but was saved with only a yellow card.

Leicester had a shout for a penalty when Paul Dummett‘s sliding tackle of Riyad Mahrez in the box caused the Algerian to hit the deck, but no whistle arrived for the Foxes.

DeAndre Yedlin was injured making a 72nd minute tackle on Fousseni Diabate.

Perez made it 2-0 with a classy and audacious finish, with Maguire and Wes Morgan allowing Florian Lejeune‘s clearance to hit the turf, and Perez chipping Schmeichel from 30 yards with the outside of his boot. Gorgeous stuff.

Vardy tapped in a Shinji Okazaki knockdown of a delightful Demarai Gray cross with seven minutes to play to make it game on at the King Power.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

PL preview: Man City vs. Leicester City

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  • Man City 13 points clear of everyone in title race
  • Leicester up to 8th after slow start, managerial change
  • Man City unbeaten at home; Leicester just 3 away wins

For the first time since August (not including international breaks), Manchester City are fresh off an entire week between games, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time, as far as Leicester City, who visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com), are concerned.

After making serious headway in the Premier League (runaway leaders and champions-elect), Champions League (group winners, into the round of 16), FA Cup (into the fifth round) and League Cup (into the final), Pep Guardiola‘s side found itself in dire need of an extended (if you considered seven days a long time) break, as fatigued bodies and injuries to key players have piled up in recent weeks. Mercifully, defender John Stones and midfield maestro David Silva are expected to be available for selection come Saturday.

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Leicester’s recent struggles (loss to Everton, draw with Swansea City), following a particularly purple patch (just one defeat in 11 games from Sept. 30 to Dec. 13) during the middle third of the already-completed portion of the season, was in many ways spurred by Man City, who, whether intentionally or not, unsettle the Foxes’ star attacker, Riyad Mahrez, with a transfer deadline day approach which proved to be unsuccessful. Mahrez then refused to report for training or make himself available for selection the following week, before returning on Friday. He will not feature for the Foxes on Saturday.

Kelechi Iheanacho, who made a $33-million move from Man City to Leicester in the summer, is still seeking his first PL goal (he has five between the FA and League Cups) for his new club. The 21-year-old has featured more prominently in recent weeks (starts in three of Leicester’s last five games – all competitions), and might just continue to do so in the absence of Shinji Okazaki (knee), who’s frequently deployed as a forward/midfielder tweener just behind Jamie Vardy.

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Leroy Sane (ankle), Fabian Delph (knee), Gabriel Jesus (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee); QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (oblique); RETURNING: John Stones (knee) | Leicester — OUT: Riyad Mahrez (personal), Shinji Okazaki (knee), Wes Morgan (hamstring)

What they’re saying…

Pep Guardiola, on City’s busy season: “We have had a lot of games since August, with just one midweek off, so we needed it. We made three good training sessions and then we come back. We love to play football but when you play every three days in three or four competitions, sometimes a break is good for everybody because you come back stronger. Everybody (had a rest). The physios, chef…everybody.”

Claude Puel, on Mahrez: “I think Riyad is not available for Saturday’s game. I hope Riyad can get his head right and come back with us and work hard. The best way is for him to come back and enjoy his football. He is a magnificent player and he enjoys his football. He loves his teammates, and that’s important. He loves to touch the football but he needs to come back right.”

Prediction

Man City have won 12 straight PL games at home (18 across all competitions), outscoring opponents 44-8 during that time (55-11 including other competitions), a run which should leave Leicester with very little hope of earning anything at the Etihad. Man City 3-0 Leicester.

PL Preview: Chelsea vs. Leicester City

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  • Chelsea has beaten Leicester in 12 of their last 14 meetings
  • Leicester City has lost five straight road games vs. Top 6
  • Marcos Alonso‘s 12 PL goals over the last 2 seasons are more than any defender

The battle for second place is on, and Chelsea will want to hold serve at home as they host Leicester City at 10:00 a.m. ET at Stamford Bridge live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Antonio Conte has fallen under some fire this season with Chelsea back in third place in the Premier League, but they’ve closed the gap on Manchester United and sit just a point behind the second spot. Still, with the Blues having drawn three straight matches, they will look to get back to winning ways.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Meanwhile, Leicester City is struggling mightily, with a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town their only three points since December 13th. They failed to find the back of the net against League One side Fleetwood Town during their midweek FA Cup matchup, although the side fielded was a relatively weak one without the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. The former should be ready for this match after sitting out for a week with a groin problem, while Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson continue to sit with hamstring problems, part of the reason why the club has coughed up nine goals in its last five matches, and has just two clean sheets since late October.

INJURIES: Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Ross Barkley | Leicester City — OUT: Wes Morgan (hamstring), Danny Simpson (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: Robert Huth (ankle), Jamie Vardy (groin).


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on not pursuing Jamie Vardy: “We didn’t speak about him, but I repeat we are talking about a really good player. For sure Vardy is a really good player and I don’t like to speak about players of other teams, but in this case we are not talking about transfer market.”

Leicester City manager Claude Puel on playing big clubs: “I think in our games against the great teams, we have always had good situations and good possibilities – like against Manchester United and Tottenham. The ambition is not just for us to score but to continue to play after scoring and to always keep good ambition in our play.”

Prediction

How about this for a nugget? Antonio Conte has won 25 of his first 30 home games in charge of Chelsea, a joint club record with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Both of those managers lost their 31st game (thanks Opta!). Just on that alone, Leicester City wins 2-1, and Jamie Vardy scores the winner. Conte is berated for his tactics, but in reality, the club’s lack of midfield depth is to blame, as Tiemoue Bakayoko is still learning the Premier League ropes.