Can Leicester City continue their strong start to the season when they host Brighton at the King Power Stadium in the Premier League (7.15pm Sunday)?
Leicester narrowly missed out on a place in the top four last season due to a collapse down the final stretch. They have begun the new campaign in a manner that suggests they again shouldn’t be written off as potential challengers for a Champions League berth.
Brendan Rodgers’ side recorded their seventh win in 11 matches in a 2-1 win away to Sheffield United last weekend. Ayoze Perez’s 25th minute opener was swiftly equalised but right at the end of a match in which Leicester had comfortably outshot their hosts, Jamie Vardy raced onto a through ball from James Maddison to score the winning goal.
It was a welcome result following consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Fulham and one that left Leicester in fourth, with 21 points to their credit. Their seven victories have been allied to four defeats, making it seem as if draws don’t enter into their thinking. There have been impressive displays, too, most notably their 5-2 win away to Manchester City.
Leicester are in a good position right now, although there are reasons to be cautious on their chances of staying in the top four as the season progresses. Firstly, and most simply, it is worth noting that both Manchester teams would move ahead of Leicester in the table if they were to win their respective games in hand.
There is also the fact that Leicester’s underlying numbers don’t look anywhere near as strong as their results to date. They are more like those of a mid-table side than a Champions League contender. When they put together a highly impressive haul of 39 points during the first half of last season, it was at least partially backed up by their metrics. That hasn’t been the case this time around.
One other thing really stands out: Leicester have won eight and scored seven penalties so far this season. They have had just one penalty given and scored against them. That just isn’t something that is likely to persist as the campaign continues.
The relationship between Brighton’s results and underlying numbers has followed the exact opposite path. They have put together a series of good performances that have produced an impressive set of overall metrics yet they find themselves down in 16th, with just 10 points from two wins, four draws and five defeats.
Monday’s 1-2 defeat at home to Southampton shared many traits with their previous matches. They went ahead through an early penalty from Pascal Gross, but despite creating the better chances before and thereafter, they fell to defeat thanks to a header from a corner and a late Southampton penalty.
Brighton finished 15th last season in Graham Potter’s first campaign at the helm. He made clear changes to the work of previous coach Chris Hughton, producing a side that defended higher up the pitch and more aggressively than they had under his predecessor, and that were also much more possession-based in attack. The stylistic alterations were clear, and there was some improvement in results, but their final league position looked about right.
In year two, though, Brighton have kicked things up a notch, at least in terms of quality of performance. The attack is producing at a similar level but the defensive mechanisms now seem to be far more effective in limiting both the quantity and quality of opposition shots, not that it has filtered through to results yet. A mix of good opposition finishing, bad fortune and five conceded penalties have contributed to their negative goal difference.
This fixture therefore looks like one of those classic cases where the underlying numbers tell a very different story of each team’s quality than is told by their results to date. Leicester are probably worse than results suggest, while Brighton are probably better. The sample sizes are still fairly small, but that would seem to fit general perception of their respective performances over the opening months of the campaign.
With that in mind, Brighton looks a little underrated by our top-rated bookmakers coming into this fixture, producing the opportunity to back them for victory but with the out of doing so on the ‘draw no bet’ market in order to limit potential losses. So the Leicester City vs Brighton betting tips verdict for this preview from JustBookies is:
- Bet on Brighton to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ 7/4 with Betfred, BetVictor, Betfair or Paddy Power.
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