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leicester 2 1000x500It seems only hours since I was returning from the last away match and here we are with match previews again as we prepare for our next game on the road. Thankfully it is only Leicester and Bournemouth, but by that I mean in terms of mileage rather than anything else.

Both us and Leicester had good wins this midweek, us at Bournemouth and they at home to Spurs and those two results have taken us to an unprecedented sixth place in the Premier League and right now it feels really good to be there.

Four away wins, 14 points already on the road has given us the sort of start to the season we could surely have only dreamed of when we were setting off for Chelsea in August, but it is far from a good start now. By the time we get home tomorrow night we’ll have completed virtually 40% of the league season.

We go into the game on 25 points. We could, if results go in our favour, move up a place to fifth but we can only go down one place should Spurs get a better result than we do in their game at Watford.

Chris Wood returned to the team at Bournemouth and scored the opening goal and he will certainly be keen to retain his place tomorrow against the one other club for whom he has played Premier League football.

The New Zealand international was in the Leicester title who won the Championship and went up with us in 2013/14 but following promotion was restricted to a few substitute appearances in the top flight, in which he scored once, a late equaliser against Everton on the opening day of the season, before moving to Leeds in the summer of 2015.

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Even so, he enjoyed his time there and said ahead of the game that he was looking forward to playing there. “It’s going to be a good one,” he said. “I spent a good two and a half years there and I’m looking forward to seeing some of friends there.”

His goal at Bournemouth was his fourth Premier League goal for us since he arrived from Leeds and he added: “The mood in the camp is fantastic and we’re on a nice high. We’re extremely good at taking things game by game though and it’s nice to know that if we keep performing the way we are and keep working hard, then results do come.”

Wood has already played and scored against one former club this season when he netted from the penalty spot in the League Cup against Leeds and will come up against Brighton in the next away game, a club for whom he scored 8 goals while on loan from West Brom in 2010/11 season.

It’s some time since a Burnley manager had such a headache in terms of selection when it comes to forwards and those being given a chance are certainly making their mark. Sam Vokes scored the winner in the recent away victory at Southampton while Ashley Barnes was on the mark with a stunning finish as we beat Swansea.

Now Wood has scored at Bournemouth and, as the manager says: “They have all been terrific. Barnesy has led the line really well in recent weeks, Sam is chomping at the bit and scored a great goal recently at Southampton,” and added: “Don’t forget Nahki Wells is breathing down their necks by the way, and Jon Walters is just returning.”

I’m sure it will be Wood who starts tomorrow when, apart from the longer term injury victims, we’ll again be without Matt Lowton. It has now been confirmed that he has a minor medical ligament injury.

Dyche said about his chances of playing: “I doubt it. He went into a big challenge last weekend but managed to finish the game. It flared up on Tuesday, so we will have to keep an eye on that one, so I doubt he’ll be fit for the weekend.”

Phil Bardsley will continue to deputise for Lowton and Ashley Westwood is the most likely to come in for Steven Defour if required. Defour went off injured at Bournemouth with around 15 minutes to play. The latest news from Turf Moor was that he was in contention, but I suspect he’ll miss out this week. If so, it will be the first league game he’s missed this season. Could that mean a potential return to the bench for Dean Marney?

I’m expecting us to line up: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood. Subs from: Anders Lindegaard, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Dean Marney, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Nahki Wells, Ashley Barnes.

Since we went to Leicester early last season, when they were still walking on air as champions, they’ve dispensed with the services of two managers. Despite winning the title in 2015/16, Claudio Ranieri was shown the door last February and his replacement Craig Shakespeare, who has now joined the coaching staff at Everton, followed him in October with Leicester in the bottom three with just six points from eight games.

With Michael Appleton in caretaker charge they won at Swansea and just over a week after Shakespeare went, they appointed Claude Puel. It didn’t appear to be the most popular of appointments as far as the supporters were concerned but they’ve won two, drawn two and lost just one since he arrived and the defeat was against league leaders Manchester City. There is no criticism of Puel any longer.

That’s moved them into the top half of the league, to ninth place, now seven points clear of the relegation positions and I wouldn’t expect them to drop back down into the bottom three.

They were without Christian Fuchs against Spurs following the birth of his daughter but he’s back in contention tomorrow and could replace Ben Chilwell who deputised. Kelechi Iheanacho was also missing through illness. He’s available again but can expect no more than a place on the bench.

Puel will play with Jamie Vardy up front with three of Riyad Mahrez, Marc Albrighton, Shinji Okazaki and Demarai Gray behind him; Gray was the one to miss out against Spurs.

They will still be without injury victims Robert Huth and Burnley fan Matty James and the manager has said that he doesn’t know how long they will be out. Huth hasn’t played all season while James has been out since suffering an achilles injury in early September.

Leicester’s team against Spurs was: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Riyad Mahrez, Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi, Vicente Iborra, Marc Albrighton, Shinji Okazaki, Jamie Vardy. Subs: Ben Hamer, Aleksandar Dragovic, Andy King, Daniel Amartey, Demarai Gray, Hamza Choudhury, Islam Slimani.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

The visit to Leicester last season was our second away game of the season. We’d been beaten 3-0 at Chelsea previously and Leicester matched that 3-0 scoreline, winning comfortably in the end although for virtually half of the game there was no indication that either side would win by such a margin.

They opened the scoring in stoppage time at the end of the first half through Islam Slimani and the same player doubled the score three minutes into the second half. Sean Dyche described it as four minutes of madness. Matt Lowton gave away a ridiculous and needless free kick in the corner from which they scored the first and Dean Marney gave the ball away for the second although there was some fortune to it with Jamie Vardy’s flick for Slimani hardly intentional.

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Jeff Hendrick got his first Burnley start as we lined up in a sort of 4-4-1-1 formation with Steven Defour deployed in the advance position we now see Hendrick play. Sam Vokes had missed out while the other change from the team that had drawn against Hull at home saw Scott Arfield replace Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson.

The system worked in the first half, no doubt about that. We played some good football at times and weren’t under any pressure. We looked the more likely, but then came those four minutes of madness and the points had been handed on a plate to Leicester.

Ben Mee, who once played against us for Leicester during a loan spell, scored an own goal twelve minutes from time to complete the scoring and by the final whistle we were a well beaten team.

The teams were;

Leicester: Ron-Robert Zieler, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs, Riyad Mahrez (Demarai Gray 85), Danny Drinkwater (Andy King 79), Daniel Amartey, Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy, Islam Slimani. Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Luis Hernandez, Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki, Leo Ulloa.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney, Jeff Hendrick, Scott Arfield (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 57), Steven Defour (Sam Vokes 64), Andre Gray (Patrick Bamford 79). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, James Tarkowski, Michael Kightly.

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