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Everton-Leicester City Preview
Leicester City look to make it three wins on the spin in league play Saturday when they host an Everton side out to regroup after a disappointing exit from the Carabao Cup.
The Foxes (4-0-3) enter this contest in eighth place, just ahead of new boys Wolverhampton on goal difference and also reached the fourth round of the Carabao Cup by ousting Wolves on penalties nearly two weeks ago. Claude Puel's team followed that match with a professional 2-0 road victory over struggling Newcastle United last Saturday.
Jamie Vardy struck a penalty on the half-hour after Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin handled Harry Maguire's shot inside the 18, and Maguire rose highest to meet a corner by James Maddison in the 73rd minute. Leicester's defence - powered by the central pairing of Maguire and talisman Wes Morgan - stifled the Magpies and limited them to one shot on target, a speculative 60-yard effort keeper Kasper Schmeichel comfortably caught under the crossbar.
Maguire will likely add to his 14 international caps following his recall to the Three Lions for the upcoming international break. This time the 21-year-old Maddison will join him at St. George, hoping to show manager Gareth Southgate the playmaking skills England are lacking in the midfield at the moment.
"We're doing really well at the minute, there's a great spirit around the place and training's been really good and we're keeping to high standards so long may that continue," Maddison told LCFC TV while looking ahead to Everton. "They've spent a lot of money in recent years and they've got a good squad with a lot of quality and it'll be a tough test, and it'll be brilliant for us if we can go into the international break off the back of three wins in a row.
"That's fantastic at any point of the Premier League if you get three in a row. We'll work hard on the training pitch and we'll go into that the best prepared we can."
Puel will again be without Demarai Gray, who missed the win over Newcastle with an ankle injury suffered in the Carabao Cup. The Frenchman, though, has definitely found a comfort level with a 4-2-3-1 formation as Ricardo Pereira and Daniel Amartey have alternated at right back and right wing throughout the season.
Both Vardy and Maddison have two goals and an assist in Leicester's last three league games, while Kelechi Iheanacho has a goal and two assists in that run.
Everton (2-3-2) are 11th in the table on nine points but have yet to find that next level to be competitive for those spots beyond the Big Six that could result in European play next term. The Toffees have one win in their last five matches in all competitions (1-2-2) and were dumped out of the Carabao Cup on penalties Tuesday at home against Southampton after a 1-1 draw.
Theo Walcott came off the bench to score the equaliser five minutes from time, but both he and Richarlison were unable to convert from the spot against Southampton keeper Angus Gunn, with the young keeper saving Walcott's attempt after Everton counterpart Martin Stekelenburg gave the Toffees a lifeline with a save on Matt Targett's try.
Given Everton were coming off their most complete win of the season last weekend - a 3-0 drubbing of Fulham - while Southampton had the sword taken to them by Liverpool with an identical scoreline - there is an eagerness among the Toffees to put aside the disappointment of this result.
"It's a massive game against Leicester," centre back Michael Keane told EvertonTV. "We had a good result at the weekend and we're fully focused on that game now. We played some very good football in the Fulham game, especially in the second half, and we want to bring that into Saturday's game.
"Against Southampton, I think some of the lads who haven't been playing put in some good performances and showed what they can do - but there's always room for improvement. Theo got that goal and we had a few half-chances towards the end but we couldn't nick it. Then anything can happen in penalties."
Lucas Digne is expected to reclaim his spot at left back for this match after being held out versus Southampton, but high-profile summer signing and centre back Yerry Mina is not expected to make his Everton debut until after the international break. The Colombia international had a recent setback recovering from the foot injury that has sidelined him to date, and Everton manager Marco Silva hinted he may schedule some closed door friendlies during the break to get Mina closer to match fitness.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had a second-half brace against Fulham after cannoning a penalty off the crossbar, has scored four goals in his last five matches across all competitions.
The home team won both matches last season, with Vardy and Gray scoring 11 minutes apart in the first half-hour at the Midlands. Leicester City are 4-0-3 in their last seven in all competitions versus Everton after winning just one of the first 18 matches (1-13-4) between the sides in the Premier League era.
Vardy has four goals and two assists in six lifetime matchups with the Toffees.
Updated October 4, 2018