After a pretty intriguing International Break where all the top players in the world were off representing their countries to try and qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the domestic leagues are back in full swing with Matchday 8 of the always exciting English Premier League.
We have fared pretty well making one or two EPL selections a week at The Sports Geek, and with lots of big favourites in the Premier League this weekend, our best spot to dabble comes on the Monday afternoon slate as Leicester City host the always pesky West Bromwich Albion squad coached by Tony Pulis.
The Foxes of Leicester again have gotten off to a sluggish start after miraculously winning the title two seasons ago. They are mired in 18th place, and the results have already become critical. West Brom meanwhile continues to plod along, always content with their consistent mid-table finishes. They’re 11th heading into Monday’s clash, with two wins, three draws, and a pair of losses. They’ll surely be facing a desperate Leicester City side on Monday night.
Please read on below for a tactical breakdown of this intriguing fixture, finishing off with an official selection for this match-up. Note: Kickoff goes at 3:00 PM EDT from the King Power Stadium.
Leicester City vs. West Bromwich Albion Betting Odds:
Leicester City (+100)
West Bromwich Albion (+330)
Over 2.5 (-110)
Under 2.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Leicester City vs. West Bromwich Albion Pick:
This has to be the point in Leicester’s season where the Foxes get on track. Certainly there was going to be a bit of a lull following their improbable title win in 2015-2016, though they aren’t bad enough to be relegated. This was a squad I predicted to finish in the top half of the table, and look for their skill to finally start shining through from Week 8 forward.
They are also catching West Brom at an ideal time as the Baggies have endured a run of harsh form, going winless in their past six matches. Making matters worse for West Brom is the fact that their star goalkeeper Ben Foster is a serious doubt. He’s had issues in the past with knee injuries, and you have to wonder about the future now for the 34-year old. It’s believed the unproven Boaz Myhil will fill the void – definitely a big step down in quality and certainty for West Brom.
Leicester’s boss Craig Shakespeare will be eager to welcome his former club to the King Power, and he’ll finally be eager to take on a side that isn’t one of the perennial powerhouses. Leicester City have had a ridiculously tough stretch to begin the season and though they could have fared better, I’m not sure many teams would have done all that well given their difficult match-ups.
They’ll be welcoming back speedy striker Jamie Vardy up front and he should apply all kinds of pressure on the West Brom backline. West Brom has only recorded one clean sheet so far this season and defender Jonny Evans will have his hands full with the pace of Vardy. Evans is generally regarded as a powerful defender, but one that isn’t exactly the most fleet of foot.
Expect an energetic Foxes squad eager to play in front of their home fans on a Monday evening. This is a huge game already for them, and you can bet they’re eager to escape from the basement. Look for West Brom to simply sit back and stay deep to play against Leicester’s speed up front, but they won’t be able to hold out for all 90 minutes – especially without Ben Foster.
Leicester have been incredibly unlucky all season long, but they’re finally healthy among their key talent – and that should make a ton of difference as they host a depleted West Brom side. Don’t be surprised to see this two sides swap table positions by Christmas time – and it’ll start on Monday. Look for Leicester to win with a 2-1 scoreline.
PICK = Leicester City (+100)