The Premier League’s two basement sides go in search of a long-awaited three points on Monday evening, as Leicester City welcome Nottingham Forest to the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes suffered a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur before the international break, while Steve Cooper‘s side went down 3-2 to Fulham.
Whether Brendan Rodgers is indeed a man on borrowed time at Leicester is a question for the owners, but the 49-year-old is under no illusions that his position will come under threat if Leicester show no signs of rising above the dotted line.
Yet to recover from an extremely quiet transfer window, the Foxes gave Tottenham a decent run for their money in the first half before the international break, but Rodgers’s men had no answer to Son Heung-min‘s 13-minute hat-trick off the bench as another loss befell them.
Rodgers continues to publicly back himself and his players to turn their season around, but the need for inspiration is growing desperate, as Leicester sit rock bottom of the Premier League table with only one point to their name from seven matches and cannot break out of the relegation zone no matter what transpires this weekend.
Finding the back of the net has not been the issue for Leicester, who are the only side in the bottom nine to have already scored 10 goals this term – not even Chelsea or Manchester United have managed that – but shipping a league-high 22 highlights the root of their struggles.
Since drawing with Brentford on the opening day, Leicester have suffered six consecutive defeats in the top flight and could now open a league season with four winless home games for the first time since 2001-02, where they were eventually relegated.
Signing every Tom, Dick and Harry in the summer transfer window has not led to the desired formula for success for Nottingham Forest, whose own shortcomings in the defensive third have been biting them hard in the early weeks of the season.
Taiwo Awoniyi took just 11 minutes to put the Tricky Trees ahead against Fulham in the battle of the newly-promoted sides, but Joao Palhinha, Tosin Adarabioyo and Harrison Reed all netted in a six-minute period for the Cottagers before Lewis O’Brien‘s 77th-minute consolation.
Forest’s four-game losing streak in the Premier League means that the visitors only sit one place and three points clear of Leicester in the embryonic rankings, although Cooper’s side have managed to do what their hosts have failed to so far – win a game.
Conceding 14 goals across their four defeats will be a cause for concern for Cooper, whose side have taken just one point from their three outings away from home so far and have conceded a joint-high five goals from set pieces this term – Leicester are unsurprisingly the other leaders in that category.
Forest memorably thumped Leicester 4-1 when the sides met in the FA Cup last term – only their second victory from their last nine against the Foxes – and both managers ought to feel that a morale-boosting victory is theirs for the taking here.
Leicester boss Rodgers reported minor fitness concerns with Wilfred Ndidi and Dennis Praet following the international break, but he is confident that the midfield duo will both be available for the visit of Forest.
Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand remain absent for the long term, and it remains to be seen if Patson Daka will overcome illness in time for the game, so Jamie Vardy can feel hopeful about his chances of a recall to the side.
Rodgers ought to set his side up to attack against the leaky Tricky Trees and may ultimately stick with most of the starting XI from the defeat to Tottenham, with Danny Ward‘s place in goal seemingly safe for the time being.
As for Forest, centre-back Scott McKenna withdrew from the Scotland squad with a knee injury and is a doubt for the contest, so Cooper will be thankful to have Joe Worrall fully recovered from a broken nose.
Omar Richards, Orel Mangala and Moussa Niakhate are all continuing their spells out of action for the Tricky Trees, and question marks are also hanging over the heads of Emmanuel Dennis and Morgan Gibbs-White ahead of Monday’s game.
The latter’s possible absence would benefit O’Brien and Jesse Lingard‘s chances of featuring from the first whistle, and Cooper may be tempted to field a four-man backline after Steve Cook and Willy Boly were both hooked just after the hour mark last time out.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Ward; Castagne, Evans, Faes, Justin; Ndidi; Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall, Barnes; Vardy
Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
Henderson; Williams, Worrall, Cook, Lodi; Yates, Freuler; Johnson, O’Brien, Lingard; Awoniyi
If any game had the makings of a drab and dull 0-0, this is certainly not one of them, as Leicester’s defensive shortcomings continue to cancel out their relatively successful attacking phases.
Forest have been leaking goals at an alarming rate themselves, and Leicester still possess a number of difference-makers capable of getting their side out of a sticky situation, and we can picture the Foxes finally getting on the board to relieve some of the pressure on Rodgers’s shoulders.
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