Leicester City host a decidedly hit or miss Watford side still adapting to the demands of their latest manager in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Claudio Ranieri’s 19th club of his prolific managerial career has swung between extremes during the embryonic stages of his latest reign. Going goalless or rattling in four or more in each of his five matches thus far, the Hornets represent an unpredictable opponent for Ranieri’s former champions.
Sitting just three places higher than the newly-promoted side, Leicester could be leapfrogged if Watford can carve out their first consecutive victory of the season.
When is kick off? Sunday 28 November, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? King Power Stadium
TV channel/live stream? Sports Sunday – Sky Sports (UK), Peacock (US), DAZN (Canada)
Highlights? Sky Sports YouTube Channel, Match of the Day 2 (BBC – UK)
Referee? Graham Scott
VAR? Martin Atkinson
While the long-term absentees Wesley Fofana and James Justin are tentatively nearing the final stretch of their draining recoveries, Leicester still have some time before they can field a full-strength defence.
In the short-term, midfield talisman Youri Tielemans could return from a calf issue ‘within a couple of weeks’ according to Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers. However, along with Ricardo Pereira – whose lingering hamstring injury is placed on the same recovery timescale – Leicester will be without a number of key players come Sunday.
Watford have a raft of fitness concerns of their own. Both Francisco Sierralta (hamstring) and Ken Sema (knee) had their international break this month cut short by injury. Peter Etebo and Kwadwo Baah are recovering from surgery following a torn quad and fractured ankle respectively which rules both of them out for the foreseeable future.
While Juraj Kucka is set for a return after serving his one-game ban for a pair of yellow cards against Arsenal, Christian Kabasele is on track to resume full training in the next few weeks.
However, Nicolas N’Koulou and, most worryingly of all, Ismaila Sarr were both forced off during Watford’s humbling 4-1 victory over Manchester United last weekend.
Sarr’s availability is crucial to a Watford side that funnels everything through the Senegal international. Fortunately, Ranieri provided cautious optimism of an immediate return.
Leicester (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Amartey, Evans, Soyuncu; Albrighton, Soumare, Ndidi, Castagne; Maddison; Vardy, Iheanacho
Watford (4-5-1): Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Troost-Ekong, Masina; Sarr, Cleverley, Kucka, Sissoko, Dennis; King
Leicester and Watford infamously played the role of victims and victors respectively for one of the most dramatic (or traumatic, depending on your allegiances) conclusions to a match in recent years.
The Hornets – aided by a double penalty save and Troy Deeney counter-attack – triumphed in that Championship play-off semi-final second leg in 2013, but have come out worse overall in this fixture; claiming 21 wins to Leicester’s 30 with 18 draws apiece.
However, neither side has been able to earn a victory on the road over the last eight meetings – incidentally, Ranieri was on Leicester’s bench the last time home advantage was usurped.
Watford are yet to prevent Leicester from scoring in 20 top-flight meetings with the Foxes, the longest run of concessions from one team facing another in top-flight history (according to the Premier League’s official website).
In fact, Watford are yet to keep a clean sheet against any club in the Premier League this season. However, Leicester have hardly been parsimonious themselves, shipping at least one goal in every league game since an opening-day shutout against Wolves.
The Foxes may scarcely be firing on all cylinders of late but remain favourites to eke out a win against an erratic Watford side.
Prediction: Leicester 3-2 Watford