Stoke City play Leicester in the first match of the eleventh gameweek this Saturday. Both teams come into this game in good spirits beating two fairly decent teams in their previous matches. Leicester are currently in front of Stoke in the league table in 11th place while Stoke sit in 14th however Stoke have been at their best in games that they might not be expected to win.
Leicester have not been consistent this season and need to improve their form if they want to finish in the top half of the table. Jamie Vardy, as always, will be crucial in this fixture and with 6 goals in the premier league so far it’s quite possible he’ll strike again here. The defensive side of Leicester definitely needs to improve coming into this game because they can’t always count on outscoring the opposition which they have done in some of their recent games although they held a clean sheet in their last match against Everton.
Another Leicester player we have to mention is Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez has been in great form recently playing well against Everton, with an assist and bagging himself 4 assists so far in the Premier League. Last season his form was not nearly as good as it has been in a few recent matches and I think many people thought he was losing his touch after Leicester’s shock Premier League title during the 2015/16 campaign.
Stoke will definitely come into this game feeling better because after losing 2 games in row, they won against Watford (who have done very well this season) 1-0. I think this will come as a relief to them because the match before that was lost to Bournemouth who are currently 19th in the league. As well as that, they conceded 7 goals to Man. City proving that their defence is not as strong as they might’ve hoped. Interestingly, Stoke have proven to be at their best when they come up against the better teams in the league as they were able to beat Arsenal and tie Manchester United earlier on in the season. Against weaker or mid-table sides they have struggled though.
A key player for Stoke in this match will be Mame Biram Diouf who has been in decent form this season with 3 goals in Premier League so far, Stoke’s top scorer. If he can provide his usual attacking threat and great runs into the box he might score again here. The ex-striker’s position switch to right-midfield was a great tactical move because it allows Xherdan Shaqiri to push further forward and it has given him much more depth to his game. As well as that the switch is clearly not interfering with his goal threat.
Star player Shaqiri is someone who will be crucial in this match because he does so much for Stoke. He’s always moving and setting up players and his long-shots have saved Stoke so many times. Jese and Chupo Moting could provide crucial goals and assists although Jese was benched in their previous match against Watford. Both these players have been inconsistent but have popped up in vital moments to save their team. Also, Stoke will hope that their defenders have a good game with Erik Pieters showing some of his defensive qualities already this season.
This match is all about Diouf and Vardy. If they have a good game it will give their side a big advantage in the match. It will be a close game but with Stoke lacking consistency against mid-table sides and Claude Puel winning his first game as Leicester manager I do think Leicester will get a win in this game. Leicester will win 2-1.