Leicester City will be keen to keep their excellent start to life going when they face Sunderland at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.
Runaway EFL Championship leaders Leicester City will be keen to extend their lead at the top of the table when they take on an inconsistent Sunderland side at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Foxes have won 11 of their opening 12 games in the league and look odds on to return to the Premier League at the end of the campaign. Enzo Maresca has the players at his disposal to dominate the second tier, and it will come as a colossal surprise should they throw away the advantage.
Sunderland, on the other hand, made it to the semi-finals of the Championship playoffs last season but were unable to go all the way. Their hopes of going two steps further this time around have been hampered by a massive bout of inconsistency.
Consecutive losses have seen Sunderland drop to the sixth spot. They are in the mix for a playoff spot. But the lack of consistency makes it far from certain. Unless they can turn their fortunes around, it could prove to be yet another underwhelming campaign at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland are just three points off 15th-placed Blackburn Rovers and could plummet down the table should they lose the game. Having lost to Stoke City last time around, Tony Mowbray will be keen to give their fans something to celebrate against Leicester.
The gulf between both the teams is, however, too large and unless the Black Cats can play out of their skin, it could prove to be another Leicester procession en route to the Championship title. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on Sunday and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
🥳 And there’s midweek football on Filbert Way… pic.twitter.com/gNYOFUpV6a
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 23, 2023
The Foxes opened their account following the international break with a 3-1 win over Swansea City, further extending their hold at the top of the Championship standings. They now return to the King Power Stadium to face Sunderland.
Enzo Maresca will still be without his four injured stars namely: Dennis Praet, Thomas Cannon, Callum Doyle and Kasey McAteer. The Foxes boss has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from and will retain his favoured 4-3-3 formation for the game.
Mads Hermansen is a reliable last line of defence for the Foxes and should start in goal behind the back four of Ricardo Pereira, Wout Faes, Jannik Vestergaard and James Justin.
Harry Winks continues to impress in midfield and will retain his spot at the base of the three-man setup alongside Wilfred Ndidi and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. The latter two will be tasked with carrying the ball forward and crafting opportunities for the front three.
Abdul Fatawu Issahaku and Stephy Mavididi should start out wide, with Jamie Vardy making way for Kelechi Iheanacho up front. The Nigerian scored against Swansea City at the weekend and will be keen to keep the good run going.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hermansen; Pereira, Faes, Vestergaard, Justin; , Ndidi, Winks, Dewsbury-Hall; Fatawu, Iheanacho, Mavididi
The Black Cats have a decent squad but the lack of consistency continues to plague them. Consecutive losses to Middlesbrough and Stoke City have massively dented their hopes of moving up the table, and they now face arguably the toughest challenge in the Championship against Leicester.
Tony Mowbray has a poor record against the Foxes and has not beaten them in the league since 2007 when he was in charge of West Bromwich Albion. Enzo Maresca’s side is brimming with quality and strength in depth, meaning Sunderland once again go into the clash as the minnows.
The task won’t be easy with several players out injured. Mowbray will be without the quintet of Dennis Cirkin, Jay Matete, Aji Alese, Corry Evans and Ross Stewart all unavailable.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) October 22, 2023
A 4-4-2 formation appears to be the solution on the night, with Anthony Patterson in goal. He should be protected by the back four of Niall Huggins, Daniel Ballard, Luke O’Nien and Trai Hume.
Jobe Bellingham and Pierre Ekwah should hold the fort in the middle of the park, with Mason Burstow and Jack Clarke occupying the flanks. The latter is Sunderland’s most prolific player and will once again be their biggest threat going forward on the night. Patrick Roberts and Alex Pritchard are expected to start upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Patterson; Huggins, Ballard, O’Nien, Hume; Burstow, Ekwah, Bellingham, Clarke; Pritchard, Roberts
- This is the first league meeting between Leicester City and Sunderland since the 2016/17 season.
- Sunderland are currently on a three-game winless streak away to Leicester City. They last came away with a win from Leicester in 2007 under Roy Keane.
- A win on the night will see Leicester City win five of their opening six league games of a campaign for the first time since the 2019/20 season.
- Tony Mowbray has won just once against Leicester City in nine previous meetings. This came all the way back in 2007 when he was in charge of West Bromwich Albion.
- Leicester could make history if they manage to secure a fourth straight win without conceding a goal. The last time they managed to extend this run to four games was in 1973.
Player to Watch
The former Tottenham Hotspur star is enjoying a new lease of life at Sunderland and has been the Black Cats’ standout performer this season. The 22-year-old has scored eight goals in 12 Championship games this season and leading his side’s efforts to secure promotion to the Premier League.
Clarke’s performances have also garnered him much attention from several top-flight sides. With the 2024 January transfer window approaching, the Sunderland winger has the opportunity to remind his suitors of what he is capable of. Leicester City are the team to beat this season in the second tier and a strong outing against them would be a hell of an audition for Clarke.
Leicester City 2-0 Sunderland
Sunderland have been inconsistent and are largely dependent on Jack Clarke for inspiration up front. So, marking him out should make life easy for Leicester City, who go into the clash as the favourites.
Back at the King Power Stadium, Enzo Maresca will have the tools at his disposal to engineer a comfortable win that should help his side retain their stranglehold on the top spot. Sunderland should have their moments. But the Foxes have the quality to come away with a comfortable three points.