Leicester City-Newcastle United Preview
Jamie Vardy and Ricardo Pereira both had a hand - or foot - in helping Leicester City handle Newcastle United earlier this season.
Both are expected to be available on Wednesday when the second-place Foxes look to do the double over the host Magpies, who will try to avoid a season-high third straight defeat.
Vardy recorded a brace and Pereira opened the scoring with a 16th-minute goal in Leicester's 5-0 home rout of Newcastle in the reverse fixture on Sept. 29. Both players are slated to return for this match after they missed the Foxes (13-3-4) ending their 0-1-2 stretch with a 2-1 victory at West Ham United on Saturday.
Vardy (17 goals) was home tending to his wife and newborn child whilst defender Pereira (two goals) was dealing with some hamstring discomfort that led to a precautionary sitting. Whilst both are obviously two key contributors to the cause, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers knows it's been a team effort that has his squad among the top four in the Premier League.
"For us to succeed, it's about the squad," Rodgers told Leicester's official website. "The team has been pretty much set for most of the season. We've changed it from time to time, but it's not so much the players that are playing, it's the players that aren't playing.
"That allows development and improvement because they have to push every day. So, whatever team we play, I trust in the players and how they're developing."
With Vardy and Pereira out, and the busy festive period in full force, Rodgers got a chance to tinker with his lineup against the Hammers. Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray each scored on assists from Ayoze Perez in the Foxes' first league triumph since that blistering run of eight consecutive victories from Oct. 19-Dec. 8.
Leicester have won six of the last eight Premier League matches with Newcastle, including the last three at Tyneside by a combined 8-2 score margin. The Magpies have dropped three of four within the league, most recently 2-1 at home to surging Everton on Saturday.
Fabian Schar equalised in the 56th minute, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin's second goal of the game ultimately sent Newcastle to their first league defeat at St James' Park since opening the campaign with a loss to Arsenal.
"I didn't think we deserved to get beat," frustrated manager Steve Bruce told Newcastle's official website. "They're resilient, and the effort is there for everyone to see."
Jonjo Shelvey leads Newcastle with five top-flight goals, but none in his last two matches since scoring in three in a row. Meanwhile, Newcastle continues to work on a contract extension with the star midfielder.
Updated December 30, 2019