Leicester City-Norwich City Preview
Leicester City have a prime opportunity to shake out of their recent doldrums Friday and shore up their hold on a Champions League spot Friday when they face Norwich City at Carrow Road.
The Foxes (15-5-7) are still in good position for top-tier European play next season as they are comfortably in third place six points better than Chelsea and more so as Manchester City's appeal of their two-year ban on European competition could play out resulting in fifth in the table still being good enough for a Champions League berth.
But there is no denying Brendan Rodgers' side are going through a rough patch at the moment with one victory in their last six league matches (1-2-3). Leicester City were held off the scoresheet in back-to-back matches for the first time this season following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Former Leicester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez set up Gabriel Jesus' winner for the Cityzens 10 minutes from time, but the Foxes could feel properly aggrieved they were denied a share of the points when VAR failed to find a penalty on Kevin De Bruyne for a handball after doing so on Dennis Praet. Additionally, there were calls for Man City keeper Ederson to be sent off after drilling Kelechi Iheanacho in the face when the two challenged for a ball.
Iheanacho was forced to exit at halftime but should be available for this contest after going through the concussion protocols. Rodgers lamented the missed penalty but was pleased with his players' effort and noted they gave themselves opportunity by sticking to the game plan.
"Well [there's] disappointment naturally because I thought we deserved something from the game," Rodgers told LCFC TV at the full-time whistle. "Everything I asked the players to do, they were amazing in terms of defensively, pressing when they could, and then, when they had to defend."
The other good news for Rodgers is that his midfield should be at full strength for this contest. Wilfred Ndidi is ready to return after missing the last two matches with a knee injury, and Hamza Choudhury is eligible for selection after serving his suspension for a red card in Leicester's draw versus Wolverhampton on Feb. 14.
Jamie Vardy will again try to end his scoring drought, which reached nine matches across all competitions in Saturday's loss. The co-leader in the race for the Premier League's Golden Boot with Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at 17 goals, Vardy was unlucky to break his duck as a potential equaliser pinged off the base of the left post.
The match will also serve as a homecoming for midfielder James Maddison, who had 14 goals for Norwich City in 2017-18 and speaks fondly of his time with the Canaries.
At the foot of the top-flight table, time is running out for Norwich City (4-6-17) to avoid a return to the Championship. The Canaries are seven points from safety heading into this match but also have the Premier League's worst goal differential at minus-27. Their 51 goals shipped is better than only Aston Villa (52), and Daniel Farke's club have just one win in their last 14 in league play (1-5-8).
"We knew coming into this division that there would be lots of ups and downs," Max Aarons told the club's official website. "We'd have liked there to be more ups than there have been until this point, but all we can do is keep battling and keep fighting and that's what we will do. We'll go out there and show a reaction, one hundred percent. Hopefully, that turns into three points."
Norwich's goalless spell reached 295 minutes after being overrun 3-0 at Wolverhampton on Sunday, conceding twice in the first half-hour and a third shortly after the restart. The Canaries have also gone 626 minutes without a goal in the run of play dating to Todd Cantwell's strike in the fourth minute of their 1-1 draw on New Year's Day versus Crystal Palace.
The only two goals Norwich have tallied in their last six matches have come from the penalty spot via Teemu Pukki, who is tied for 11th in the league with 11 goals. The Finland international's last goal in the run of play came in the reverse fixture at King Power Stadium on Dec. 14 when he staked the Canaries to a short-lived lead in a 1-1 draw.
Norwich have claimed 12 of their 18 points at home this term, but they have just one victory in their last 10 matches at Carrow Road (1-3-6) after winning two of the first three. The draw snapped a three-match skid to Leicester City in all competitions, and the Canaries' lone top-flight win versus Leicester City in five tries came at home in the 1994-95 season.
Updated February 26, 2020