George Pitts looks ahead to another edition of Friday Night Football in the Premier League.
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Leicester v Newcastle
- King Power Stadium, 2000 BST kick-off on Sky Sports Premier League
Leicester's decision to sack Claude Puel and hire Brendan Rodgers at the end of February has proved to be an inspired move.
Puel's reign as Foxes boss was inevitably coming to an end, with fans disillusioned by the Frenchman's style of football. Rodgers has invigorated this City side and, after losing his first game in charge against Watford, has guided them to four wins on the bounce.
Friday's match presents them with a great chance to make it five in a row, bolstering their hopes of finishing seventh and a possible Europa League place.
Their visitors Newcastle go into the game close to safety, with seven points separating them and Cardiff in 18th. Although the Bluebirds have a game in hand, it would take a miracle for Neil Warnock's side to avoid the drop with the tough run-in they have.
Rafa Benitez's side can always finish top of the bottom half - 11th - but they would need a strong finish and motivation could be lacking once safety is officially confirmed.
They are currently on a run of three games without victory, last week's home defeat to Crystal Palace bringing an end to their five-match winning run at St James' Park. Talk of Benitez's contract situation has resurfaced and, with the prospect of getting something here a tough task, United would no doubt be content with a point.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Newcastle (Sky Bet odds: 13/2)
The Foxes are continuing to gather momentum and improve with more time under Rodgers on the training ground and the Magpies are there for the taking. Warning signs will be out with another dropping of points here for Benitez's side, but the feeling is a newly-motivated Foxes outfit will prove too much.
Best bet: Leicester to be leading after 30 minutes at 11/5
Overall, the Foxes are one of the best second-half sides in the league this season. Going on results solely after the interval, they are third behind Liverpool and Man City. But under Rodgers' management they have scored in the opening half hour in three games - and in another on 33 minutes. These stats show how the Northern Irishman has been keen on his side bursting out the blocks and asserting their authority on a game, especially on occasions like this against bottom-half opposition. Newcastle, meanwhile, have conceded 13 in this window this season.
Goals/Stats: Demarai Gray to have 1+ shots on target in the first half at 6/4
An excellent price on a player due a goal. Leicester's number seven has started all of their last four wins and showed hunger last time out, with three attempts on goal in the win at Huddersfield. As part of a front three with Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes, Gray's speed and skill can get the better of the visitors to at least register a shot on target. The England Under 21 international has four goals to his name this term and will be keen to end his current five-game drought.
- Leicester City have won five of their last six league encounters with Newcastle United (L1) – as many as they’d won in their previous 29 (W5 D8 L16).
- Newcastle United are looking to win consecutive away games against Leicester in the top-flight for the first time since September 1959 under Charlie Mitten.
- Newcastle have failed to find the net in six of their last 10 Premier League away games versus Leicester, scoring just six goals.
- Leicester have played more Premier League games on a Friday without a victory than any other side in the competition (P6 W0 D2 L4). Meanwhile, Newcastle have lost more Premier League games on Friday than any other side (6).
- Leicester have won their last three home Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 12 at the King Power Stadium (W3 D2 L7). They last won four in a row at home in May 2017 (a run of five).
- Leicester have won their last four Premier League games, last winning five in a row in April 2017.
- Newcastle have lost their last two Premier League games, failing to score each time. They last lost three in a row without finding the net back in January 2016.
- Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has had a hand in four goals in his last five Premier League games vs Newcastle (three goals, one assist), including scoring in this exact fixture last term.
- Leicester’s Youri Tielemans has either scored or assisted a goal in five of his last six Premier League appearances, scoring twice and assisting three.
- Jamie Vardy has netted six goals in Leicester’s five Premier League games under Brendan Rodgers so far, accounting for 50% of the Foxes’ total under the new manager.
Odds correct as of 1400 BST on 11/04/19