Leicester – Aston Villa is the 3rd-versus-2nd Premier League matchup that precisely no one expected — not even in matchweek 5, early as it is — but it’s setting up to be the perfect litmus test for each side when they meet at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2:15 pm ET, online via Peacock Premium).
For the Foxes, the question is this: Can they bounce back from a rather embarrassing 3-0 defeat to West Ham United last time out, and re-establish themselves as the top-four contenders they believe they are? Brendan Rodgers’ side will have to do so while shorthanded, though, as the hugely important trio of Jamie Vardy, Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans is unlikely to be available due to injuries.
As for Villa, the world wants to know just one thing: Where did the team that dismantled defending champions Liverpool, 7-2, come from, and will they be sticking around for the remainder of the season? While their red-hot form is something of a new development, perhaps Dean Smith worked out the magic formula late last season as Villa went unbeaten in their final four games of 2019-20 and have done the same through three to start 2020-21.
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Here is everything you need to know ahead of Leicester – Aston Villa this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.
Team news: Leicester – Aston Villa (INJURY REPORT)
Leicester: QUESTIONABLE: Jamie Vardy (calf), Dennis Praet (knee), Caglar Soyuncu (thigh), Jonny Evans (lower leg), Demarai Gray (illness), James Maddison (lower leg), Daniel Amartey (thigh) | OUT: Ricardo Pereira (knee), Filip Benkovic (groin), Wilfred Ndidi (groin)
Aston Villa: QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (thigh), Kourtney Hause (knock) | OUT: Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed Elmohamady (thigh)
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Here's City's XI for tonight's game, brought to you by @eToro 🔵
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 18, 2020
🟣 𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 🟣
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) October 18, 2020
What they’re saying: Leicester – Aston Villa
Brendan Rodgers, on James Maddison: “There’s a narrative built around people and then people will try to justify that. He’s such a caring boy. But some people will try to bring him down and want to bring him down. I said to him, ‘You make sure you play with that joy.’ As you grow and develop as a football player in this country, more people want to take you down, and that is the way it works, unfortunately. He’s a joy to manage. He couldn’t be easier. It’s a joy to see a player of that talent work as hard as he does. He’s a breath of fresh air.”
Dean Smith, on Jack Grealish’s England snub: “He’ll be disappointed that he didn’t play more minutes, but the beneficiaries are Aston Villa because he’s fresh. … There was always a worry that you could be complacent straight after [the win over Liverpool], but some players have gone away and the others have stayed here and worked hard.”
Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)
The oddsmakers don’t appear to believe in Villa (+250) to maintain their current form the same way they believe in Leicester (+105) to bounce back. If you’re someone who’s not exactly bullish on Aston Villa but think there might be something there, the draw (+260) represents even bigger value.
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Prediction: Leicester – Aston Villa
Villa look to have replicated — or, at least attempted to replicated — Leicester’s blueprint of deploying a very low defensive line and a midfield filled with brilliant technicians more than capable of launching and joining devastatingly quick counter-attacks. Leicester have done it with great success for years, while Villa have been doing it for a few months. That tactical matchup will make it a cagey affair until the first goal goes in, at which point anything can — and likely will — happen. Leicester 2-3 Aston Villa.
How to watch Leicester – Aston Villa stream and start time
Kickoff: 2:15 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium
Leicester – Aston Villa: How to watch, start time, team news, odds originally appeared on NBCSports.com