Boxing Day’s team selection is likely to be changed slightly, where possible, for Tuesday’s trip to table-topping (at time of article release) Leicester City.
Very sensible; most teams will be doing it over the packed, festive period and some fresh legs should do us some good.
Hopefully this is where our quality-in-depth will tell over our team-spirited opponents tomorrow evening (7:45m KO GMT)…
v Leicester City
Straight to it with a predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
Hart between the sticks of course.
A straight swap at left-back, I think, not just to include [away from home] the slightly more defence-savvy Frenchman; but simply a rest for Aleks / fresher legs in place. I can’t see Pellegrini sticking Martin in the middle of the defence from the start and so it’s ‘go again’ Eliaquim & Nicolas, with us losing our skipper again after just 9, flippin’ minutes on Saturday. At least Nicolas got SOME rest time [when withdrawn for Vinny] and Martin a LITTLE run-out. Although not even on the bench against Sunderland, I have to believe that if fit Pablo will get a long-awaited return / start…and that Bacary will get a much-needed rest.
Moving into midfield and, similarly, there was no Fernando on the bench last Saturday either BUT, we were told, he is fit again too. And, so, I’ve gone for the returning “Octopus” to partner the largely rested [last weekend] Fabian in an energetic & defensive, deep-lying ‘midfield 2’.
A solid base, then, to launch a pacey & dangerous attacking quartet – and for that I’m going for ‘go again’ pair David (who is really starting to regain some traction again after his long lay-off) and livewire Raheem, together with rested pair Jesus & Sergio.
On the bench is Willy as keeper cover, Kolarov the ‘straight swap man’ and Bacary as cover for Pablo, should the Argentine not last the ‘full 90+’ on his return. Martin to provide central defensive insurance. Being a slightly defensive line-up in midfield in some ways; it’s a strong, creative / goal-scoring-capable bench in Yaya, Kevin and Wilfried. I don’t think we’ll see the luxury in this fixture of having two strikers on the bench and so, sadly, there’s no place again for Kelechi Iheanacho on the side…
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured – AGAIN!), Fernandinho (not selected / possibly rested), Samir Nasri (injured) & Kelechi Iheanacho (not selected).
Result? In my mini, 8-game season piece I had this down as a firm draw. However, I’m going for us to string a bit of much-needed form together now with news that Jamie Vardy may miss this one or, at least, not be firing on all cylinders following a ‘bug’; I’m now going for a vital away victory against this season’s surprise package team.
Slight rider – predicted team selection published before any pre-match press conference from our manager.