First visit third in Championship
14 December ~ A couple of weeks ago, Leicester City v Burnley loomed as a gem to warm a cold December as two of the three teams steadily pulling away at the top of the Championship went head to head. While that is still technically the case, they have both wobbled more than a little in the last fortnight and, with a resurgent Derby County leading the chasing pack with five league wins in a row under manager Steve McClaren, neither team would want to be dropping points this week.
Burnley cried foul over their defeat to Huddersfield but had fewer excuses at dropping points against Watford or Bournemouth, while Leicester faced Sheffield Wednesday at the worst possible time, just after the Owls sacked their manager. Still, Leicester can have few complaints about a curiously lacklustre performance at Brighton on Saturday. The same day, Burnley got back to winning ways for the first time in five games against Barnsley, albeit not wholly convincingly.
Meanwhile Leicester have hopeful omens of their own. The first is their imperious home form this season – only QPR have a better record on their own ground. Secondly, the return of Ritchie de Laet will steady a defence that has become uncharacteristically vulnerable over the past couple of games. And thirdly the simple application of the law of averages; just as they were bound to slump at some point, so they are also likely to recover.
The real worry for City fans, though, is that last season we emerged from the Christmas programme leading the pack and scoring freely then hit a run of form so bad that we only scraped into the play-offs with the last kick of the season.
It would be nice to talk of the home crowd roaring the team on to a memorable victory but our identikit bowl of a stadium pretty much rules out anything of the sort: the days when our crowd lifted the lads and terrified the opposition were left behind in the Filbert Street rubble. Much has been made of Burnley’s scoring-for-fun duo of Sam Vogts and Danny Ings and whichever centre-back pairing we choose will certainly need to be at their sharpest.
City fans will hope that the law of averages also applies to David Nugent, arguably still a Premier League quality player but one who has been utterly dreadful in the past few games. A return to form would be more than welcome but I suspect that cat-and-mouse may be the order of the day and, curiously, both teams may feel happy with a scrappy 0-0 draw. Simon Betts