“More on Jamie Vardy’s hot drink.” Thank you, Graeme Thorn. “Given his background in Sheffield area non-league, surely it should be Bovril?” It would be an excellent choice on what looks a damp and chilly night in Leicester.
12 mins: Martínez had a pretty grim international break – the keeper travelled to Ecuador and Bolivia with Argentina, but didn’t get a minute of game time.
11 mins: Justin’s through ball almost catches the Villa back line napping, with Iheanacho – who was a fraction offside – denied by the onrushing Martinez, who gets a whack in the process.
10 mins: A little livelier from Leicester, with Castagne roaring down the right again and pulling the ball back to Mendy, whose cross is nodded away by Esri Konsa.
6 mins: Ayoze Perez, who has zero goals in six previous games against Villa, scuffs a weak shot straight at Martinez.
Jamie Vardy, who has five goals in five games against Villa, is watching on from the stands and enjoying an instant coffee. Or maybe a cup-a-soup, I’m not sure. More as we get it.
4 mins: A rough-and-tumble start, with Iheanacho barging Mings over before Watkins introduces Fofana to the Premier League, clattering the poor lad to the floor.
2 mins: Perez prods the ball out wide to Castagne, whose cross towards the far post is overhit. Just before that, Watkins stayed down momentarily after a heavy challenge, but seems OK to continue.
The players take a knee together, before Jonathan Moss gets this show on the road.
“Evening Niall.” Hello, Simon McMahon. “I don’t think we’ll see any silly score lines tonight. I’m going for a good old-fashioned 9-3, though don’t ask me who to.” Bold of you to assume one of these defences will only ship three, Simon.
A reminder that the corresponding fixture last season finished 4-0 to Leicester at a packed King Power. It was the last Premier League game before the shutdown, and feels about 100 years ago.
Here’s Dean Smith, who denies the international break came at the wrong time for Villa: “The lads who went away have done well, Jack Grealish was man of the match for England. We’ve used the time well and we still come here on the back of a great win.”
Now Brendan Rodgers: “The lessons learned from West Ham are that you have to be right at it, or you’ll lose. [Vardy] is a few games away, we’ve got a lot of injuries to our starters, but I’m excited by some of the players coming in, including Wesley [Fofana] who’s making his debut.”
This game is, of course, a Sky pay-per-view offering – my first taste of PPV football since an ill-advised Prem Plus binge back in 2003. I’m surprised that the coverage only begins 15 minutes before kick-off, with no studio punditry – just a solo commentator, and a shot of an empty pitch.
Three top-flight games so far today, and three late equalisers. Yowza!
Jonny Evans is fit to start in a reshaped back four, alongside big-money summer recruit Wesley Fofana, who makes his full debut. No Jamie Vardy though, with Kelechi Iheanacho leading the line in his place. Villa are unchanged from their thrashing of Liverpool, and why not?
at 1.44pm EDT
Leicester City (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Castagne, Evans, Fofana, Justin; Mendy, Tielemans, Praet; Pérez, Iheanacho, Barnes.
Subs: Ward, Morgan, Maddison, Albrighton, Slimani, Under, Choudhury.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Douglas Luiz, McGinn; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.
Subs: Steer, Hourihane, Traore, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Engels, Elmohamady.
at 1.32pm EDT
Team news coming momentarily, but first: West Ham have just levelled at Spurs through an absolute screamer from Manuel Lanzini. They were 3-0 down after 16 minutes, still three down after 81 minutes; now they’ve earned a point. The dangers of mixing Spurs and Barclays on a Sunday.
It’s early days, but this season’s title race already has the feel of a particularly chaotic instalment of Wacky Races. Victory for either team tonight would lift them to second place, tucked in behind Everton and clear of the dust cloud packed with misfiring big hitters.
Leicester have been surprise title contenders so often, the label doesn’t really fit any more. Brendan Rodgers’ side looked to have shaken off last season’s slump with that riotous 5-2 win at the Etihad, only to stall at home to West Ham. Rodgers now has to manage his squad through a rough patch of injuries and upcoming Europa League commitments.
This season’s real surprise package are Aston Villa, who looked out of their depth for much of last term before finding form to escape the drop, and carrying that momentum forward (sound familiar?) In a season of weird and wonderful results, they set the bar ludicrously high by beating Liverpool 7-2, a scoreline that still beggars belief.
All of which leaves Leicester looking vulnerable, and Villa fans daring to dream big with a favourable fixture list between now and Christmas. Cue a 4-0 home win, then. The Premier League’s perpetual chaos teaches us to always expect the unexpected. Kick-off is at 7.15pm, BST.
at 12.59pm EDT