Brendan Rodgers’ observation period continues Saturday at King Power Stadium, where Leicester City seek a third home win and third overall victory on the spin against Bournemouth in a clash of mid-table sides.
The Foxes (12-5-14) have gone 3-0-1 since Rodgers arrived from Celtic and claimed the maximum six points from his two matches in charge in the Midlands. Leicester City went into the international break following a 2-1 victory at Burnley a fortnight ago, and the recess provided the first real opportunity for the new manager to drill his side in terms of playing style and philosophy going forward.
“I’ve been very pleased with the response of the players since I came in, they’ve been great to work with,” Rodgers said at his Thursday press conference. “Our intention was to end the season as strongly as possible then go into pre-season.”
Bringing Rodgers on board also showed Leicester’s willingness to fight to keep its younger players from the Big Six sides. Manchester United have made no secret about their interest in centre back Harry Maguire, while Manchester City reportedly are interested in adding left back Ben Chilwell. Playmaking midfielder James Maddison is rumoured to be on Tottenham’s wish list, but Rodgers is confident in keeping his young nucleus.
“They may well do,” the gaffer told the Mirror about the top sides sniffing around Leicester to poach his players. But it doesn’t worry me. It happens. With Khun Top, it is all pretty straightforward. It allows me to work in the club how I would want to and that was obviously very, very important.”
Rodgers also got some good news this week when Marc Albrighton returned to training. While the midfielder is not expected to be available for this match, the new Foxes boss was optimistic Albrighton “will be available at some point.”
Bournemouth (11-5-15) are all but mathematically assured of safety, though a win would take then over the cherished 40-point mark. The Cherries went into the break following a 2-2 draw at home versus Newcastle United in which they conceded at the death and enter this contest with only one league win in seven matches (1-2-4).
There was some good news during the international break as striker Callum Wilson became the first Bournemouth player to win an England cap when he appeared as a late substitute in the 5-1 win over Montenegro, and fellow forward Joshua King scored in both of Norway’s Euro qualifiers against Spain and Sweden – giving him six goals in his last nine international appearances.
King scored both goals in Bournemouth’s draw versus Newcastle and has 11 goals in league play, trailing only Wilson (12). The duo have 11 goals apiece in league play, with Wilson’s haul coming despite missing eight matches due to injury. The pair may have some room to operate in the final third since Maguire will sit out this match due to his sending off versus Burnley, and with 31-year-old Jonny Evans and 35-year-old Wes Morgan expected to be the central pairing in Leicester’s back four, the Bournemouth strikers could have a field day.
The Cherries snapped a nine-match road losing streak in league play in their last contest outside Dean Court, beating Huddersfield Town, but have taken just 12 points from their 15 road matches (4-0-11) while shipping 35 goals with only 15 in reply.
Leicester City have yet to beat Bournemouth in the top flight, losing two matches and drawing the other five. They were on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline in the reverse fixture Sept. 15, when Ryan Fraser had a brace after 37 minutes and King added a penalty before intermission.
Adam Smith added a fourth for the Cherries before the Foxes – playing with 10 men after Morgan was given his second yellow card on 69 minutes – pulled two back late through Maddison and Albrighton.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Leicester City 2, Bournemouth 3.
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(Brendan Rodgers photo courtesy Leicester City FC Twitter account)