After all the transfer rumours and preseason games, it’s time for the Premier League and it is back bigger and hopefully more competitive than ever as Leicester City welcome Brentford in their first game of the 31st season of the most popular football league in the world.
It was a quite tough 2021-22 season for the 2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester City as the team had multiple injuries and many senior players underwent terrible forms throughout the campaign. Even the manager Brendan Rodgers had a bad year as a lot of the decisions and lineups he put in were under sharp criticism. And problems from last year seemed to have amplified with players like Wesley Fofana, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison very likely to leave the King Power Stadium with Kasper Schmeichel already leaving the club to join French outfit OGC Nice. The Foxes are the only club in Europe’s top five leagues who have not signed or registered any new players. But the fans certainly would suggest that players like Fofona, Justin, Vardy & Riccardo Pereira who come back from major injuries and a very good preseason could bolster their hopes of a good season.
It’s a very polar opposite emotion in the Brentford camp right now with clubs which finished above the likes of Villa and Everton, looking very confident of continuing their Premier League stay. The club was disappointed to lose out on Eriksen, who brought a lot of creativity and eased the flow of their play but Frank has wasted no time in signing the likes of Thomas Strakosha, Ben Mee, Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter.
Where and When?
Venue: King Power Stadium
Date: Sunday, 7th August 2022.
Time: 14:00 BST.
Referee: Jarred Gillett.
Assistants: Harry Lennard, Steve Meredith
Fourth official: David Coote.
VAR: Graham Scott.
Assistant VAR: Simon Long.
With Kasper Schmeichel leaving the club, it is a bit unclear who would be the No.1 keeper at the King Power Stadium. Whether Rodgers opts for Iversen or Ward remains to be seen but it is very much likely that he favors Ward at this moment and time. Pereira is out of the matchday squad due to an Achilles injury while Harvey Barnes misses out due to a knee injury.
Kristoffer Ajer who underwent a hamstring surgery and will be unavailable for quite a long time now while Ethan Pinnock who missed out on the entire preseason due to the same issue will also be out of this game. Sergi Canos will also be a miss due to his thigh issue
When Rodgers was quizzed on the goalkeeping situation at the club he said,
“Danny Ward is an exceptional keeper. I’ve always said we’ve got a number one keeper there. He’s had some issues around his knee but that looks to be behind him now, he’s been training well. He looked good. If Kasper is to go, he’s a big possibility for us. Daniel Iversen is there as well. We saw on Sunday night he’s a fantastic shot stopper. He’s improved so much with his feet since I first came in. That’s the job, you come in here year on year and you want to improve and develop the ones you have. It’s just about opportunity. I think from a goalkeeping perspective, we know where we’re going and we’ll hopefully this week sort that out.”
It seems like Ward will be the preferred choice of goalkeeper and Iversen would be his backup. Could this situation change? It is very difficult to tell right now. They could have gone and got the now Brentford keeper Strakosha who at one time was tipped to move to a top club in European football.
Pereira’s injury will mean that Leicester City will line up in a three-man defence formation with James Justin and Castagne acting as the wing-backs and Amartey slotting in the heart of the three centre-backs. With Vardy fully fit, Patson Daka will take his place on the bench. While Ndidi and Tielemans will again form the impressive duo with last year’s player of the season James Maddison will be given the freedom to roam and provide the attacking width.
Thomas Frank played with four at the back defence in the preseason fixture against Real Betis and that is very likely going to be the formation that he opts for this Sunday against the Foxes. Ben Mee who then joined the club on a Bosman ruling will continue his Premier League career and is the centre-back to look out for. With Canos and Pincock who have played for the club for a longtime missing out on this fixture and it will be up to the youngster now to make a step up. Hickey will make his debut for his new team after Ajer not being present to play as the right-back of this team.
Brentford’s POTY Norgaard has a massive responsibility to see his team out in this game and his industry in the centre of the park will be very important while Ivan Toney needs to keep on scoring to keep this side in the Premier League.
While all the news and eyes are on Wesley Fofana who is rumoured to join Chelsea, our pick to watch for will be last year’s POTY James Maddison. The England International had a really underrated and less talked about the impressive season with 12 goals and 8 assists although he outperformed his xG and xA by massive amounts. If not for injuries, Madders would have been definitely switched to a team for Champions League Football. That is the caliber of the player the Foxes have and Newcastle are very interested to acquire his services. Will he move for a new challenge remains to be seen?
Aaron Hickey is one name that intrigues every Premier League fan. A right-back who can play as left-back and deputize if needed on left or right side of midfield, Hickey is the latest export of the versatile players coming out of the Scottish Premiership. The Scottish international who opted to play for Serie A side Bologna was so impressive that he received a Golden Boy nomination. He contributed to five goals and an assist in 36 Serie A appearances. Hearts captain Steven Naismith described Hickey “like a 24- or 25-year-old in an 18-year-old’s body. He’s very mature for his age, he’s composed, has good physique, ticks all the boxes”. With such high praise comes high expectations and Hickey is the one that Brentford fans hope that he comes good this season.
Leicester City predicted starting XI vs Brentford: Ward; Amartey, Fofana, Evans; Justin, Ndidi, Tielemans, Castagne; Maddison, Iheanacho; Vardy.
Brentford predicted starting XI vs Leicester City: Raya; Hickey, Jansson, Mee, Henry; Janelt, Jensen, Norgaard; Wissa, Toney, Mbeumo.