Leicester City can maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League table when they take on Newcastle United on Monday night (8pm, Sky Sports 1).
Claudio Ranieri’s side increased the margin separating them from second-placed Spurs with a 1-0 win over Watford last weekend. The Foxes have now taken seven points from the last nine on offer to continue their unlikely title bid. With just nine matches of the season now remaining, most pundits and supporters now believe they have an excellent chance of finishing on top of the pile and claiming the championship this term.
Riyad Mahrez, who got the winner against Watford, has been the Player of the Year so far, with the Algeria international racking up 15 goals and 11 assists in the top flight, while Jamie Vardy (pictured) – the Premier League’s leading scorer – will be looking to add to his own goal tally of 19 when Newcastle come to town.
With the messy sacking of Steve McClaren, former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez takes over the reins at the relegation-threatened visitors for this clash. Despite spending almost £30 million on Andros Townsend, Jonjo Shelvey, Seydou Doumbia and Henri Saivet in the January transfer window, Newcastle remain stuck in the bottom three, with a run of five losses in their last six outings pushing ex-England manager McClaren out of the door.
LCFC v NUFC Best Match Betting Odds
8/13 Leicester (Bet365, SkyBet, Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, William Hill)
16/5 Draw (Bet365, BetVictor, Betfair)
5/1 Newcastle (Bet365, Boylesports, BetVictor, Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair)
The Magpies have scored just seven goals away and won only two games away from St James’ Park this campaign. Despite inheriting a talented squad, such statistics demonstrate why Benitez will have his work cut out attempting to keep Newcastle in the top tier.
Leicester will again be without long-term absentee Matty James but have no fresh injury concerns ahead of their meeting with the Magpies. Ranieri switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3 in the second half of the 1-0 defeat of Watford last time out, but is likely to revert to his usual configuration with Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy paired up front. Jeff Schlupp’s impressive cameo at Vicarage Road could earn him a start on the left-hand side of midfield, with Danny Drinkwater, N’Golo Kante, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan and Christian Fuchs all almost certain to be included in the XI.
Newcastle, meanwhile, have a total of 11 players who are either doubtful or certain to miss Monday’s encounter, with Paul Dummett (hamstring), Andros Townsend (hamstring), Papiss Cisse (groin), Fabricio Coloccini (calf), Cheick Tiote (muscular), Chancel Mbemba (ankle), Kevin Mbabu (hip), Massadio Haidara (knee), Tim Krul (knee), Gabriel Obertan (hamstring), Curtis Good (hip) all nursing injuries. Aleksandar Mitrovic could begin the game up front after being left on the bench against Bournemouth last weekend, while Rolando Aarons and Henri Saivet are also pushing for starts.
Our Preview’s Leicester v Newcastle Betting Tips Verdict
The appointment of Benitez could give Newcastle’s players a much-needed boost ahead of the trip to the King Power Stadium, but it will probably not be enough to see them overcome a side who have lost just once at home in the league all season.
Leicester have reacted brilliantly to their last-gasp loss to Arsenal a month ago and should continue their good recent run on Monday night, with Newcastle’s pitiful away record meaning they are unlikely to pose the surprise table-toppers too much of a threat. The Magpies’ struggles to score on the road, coupled with the Foxes’ excellent defensive record this calendar year, makes a home win to nil a good value bet and that is this match preview’s betting tips’ advice.