April might not yet be upon us, but this game might well have something of an end-of-season feel to it with both sides being so mid-table that they could just about take the rest of the season off. Brendan Rodgers’ side, in 10th place, take on a Bournemouth team whose early fantastic run has given way to comfortable mediocrity. Neither of these sides will be relegated this season. By the same token, neither should be too worried about renewing their passports given the unlikeliness of European qualification.
It will be the home side, under new management, who are expected to give us a show here. Rodgers has had a relatively gentle introduction back into the Premier League, with wins against Fulham and Burnley to follow his debut loss at Watford. While it’s easy to damn them with faint praise, the Northern Irishman has at least got some urgency from a side who often looked disinterested under predecessor Claude Puel.
Leicester City vs Bournemouth Prediction: Leicester City 3-1 Bournemouth
As the season draws to a close under a new manager, Leicester’s players will be acutely aware that the boss will have ideas about making changes to the squad. As a result, the rest of the campaign is now an extended job interview for players who won’t want to be moved on to make room for the new blood. A home fixture against Bournemouth at this stage of the season is as close as you’re going to get to a free hit in the Premier League, so the Foxes should be looking to win this one convincingly. They’ve shown they have the talent.
Our recommended tip: Maddison to score
Foxes midfielder James Maddison was not selected in the recent England squad for games against the Czech Republic and Montenegro. That the players selected went on to score ten goals across the two matches won’t have gone unnoticed by the player who has stood head and shoulders above his teammates this season. He’s tasted international action before losing out, largely due to his club falling out of form – so we can expect Maddison, 13/5 with Paddy Power to score at any time, to try and make his mark here.
In the four seasons where both these clubs have been Premier League sides, Leicester have yet to record a win over the Cherries – they even drew both games in the 2015/16 miracle campaign in which the Foxes became champions. Most recently, back in September at the Vitality Stadium the home side won 4-2. Despite the scoreline, it was almost entirely one-way traffic – goals from Ryan Fraser (2), Josh King and Adam Smith seeing Bournemouth take a 4-2 lead before goals in the closing minutes from Maddison and Marc Albrighton gave the final score a sheen of respectability.
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Players to watch: Youri Tielemans & Josh King
You could forgive Tielemans for wondering what he’s got himself into – loaned by Leicester on deadline day, he then played in two defeats before Puel was sacked. However, he’s shown under Rodgers why fans were excited about his arrival from Monaco. With excellent close control and superb weight of passing, the Belgian international appears to have the X Factor his side have been missing for most of the season – and his promptings from deep midfield have freed Maddison to make more contributions further forward.
King has very quietly gone about being one of the most important players to Bournemouth’s impressive season. With eleven league goals, he’s on a par with Callum Wilson, but receives less attention than the England man. In Bournemouth’s recent 2-2 draw with Newcastle, it was the Norwegian who got both goals. King also arrives back on the South Coast after a productive international break, having scored in games against Spain and Sweden.