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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Leicester can spoil Newcastle's party

Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are on top of their games

Leicester hotshot Jamie Vardy
1 of 1

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday

The sold-out signs have been put up at St James' Park as the Toon Army get ready to celebrate their 125th anniversary but Leicester could spoil the party on Tyneside.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez does not seem the type to get out the party poppers and dance the night away at the best of times, but even by his own standards the Spaniard has been grumpy in recent times as takeover talks rumble on.

Benitez has made it clear he needs January reinforcements to maintain Newcastle's top-flight status following a dodgy spell of one point from the last 18 available and that came via a comeback at West Brom thanks to a Jonny Evans own goal.

Their only win in their last ten games came 1-0 against Crystal Palace in a scrappy affair, while Bournemouth and Watford have won to nil at Newcastle since the start of November to increase the panic.

Newcastle are down to 15th and need to stop the rot but even Benitez seems to have lost his way, straying away from his trademark 4-2-3-1 formation to select a mess of a side at Chelsea last week.

Chelsea are a class act, but United's three-man defence did not work at all and three of Newcastle's four Premier League wins this season have come against the sides currently in 18th, 19th and 20th, with 13th-placed Stoke their only other victims.

More Premier League previews

West Ham v Chelsea

Tottenham v Stoke

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth

Leicester, up to ninth after a slow start, are better than West Ham, Swansea, Palace and Stoke and this is a decent opportunity for them to grab a hat-trick of victories after beating Tottenham and Burnley.

Only Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City have beaten the Foxes this season, which suggests the visitors are worthy of a punt given they are seen as outsiders.

Saturday tipping columns

Didi Hamann

Mark Langdon

Dan Childs

Kevin Pullein

Winning does not come easy to Leicester on their travels with four draws in the last five, so it could be worth keeping the stalemate on your side, although if there is to be a victor Claude Puel's team appear the more likely despite the prices suggesting otherwise.

Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are on top of their games and there is a nice balance to the midfield with Vicente Iborra alongside Wilfred Ndidi. That allows the front two freedom to create havoc and Demarai Gray is another potential match-winner. 

Newcastle don't have a player in their ranks with more than two Premier League goals this season and it's in the key forward area where Leicester hold a significant advantage.

Leicester draw no bet
2pts 11-10 Hills

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Team news
Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu return for Newcastle. Paul Dummett lacks match fitness.

Rob Huth and Matty James remain sidelined.

Key stat
Leicester have scored a first-half goal in seven of their last eight matches.

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This is a decent opportunity for them to grab a hat-trick of victories after beating Tottenham and Burnley
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