Preview: Burnley vs. Leicester City

Burnley manager Sean Dyche smiles during his team's match against QPR on October 26, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's crucial title battle between second-placed Burnley and leaders Leicester City at Turf Moor.

The top two teams in the Championship go head to head on Saturday in what could prove to be a pivotal match in the title race.

Burnley host Leicester City at Turf Moor having closed the gap on the leaders to just three points in the space of a week, challenging the assumption that the Foxes were cruising towards the league crown.

Indeed, a win by a two-goal margin for the Clarets would see them displace Leicester at the top of the table on goal difference, although Nigel Pearson's side do still have a game in hand.

Both teams are all but guaranteed automatic promotion with 10 points separating second from third-placed Queens Park Rangers, but the prospect of overhauling Leicester and winning the title will be all the motivation that Burnley need for this match.

Sean Dyche's side are unbeaten in the league since the turn of the year and have not lost in their last 16 Championship outings, winning their last three.

They also boast the league's best defensive record having conceded just 31 goals in 38 matches, while their tally of three defeats all season is the lowest out of any side in England's top four divisions.

It is more of the same at Turf Moor, where they have not lost in the league all season and have only been beaten by West Ham United in all competitions within the last year.

Dyche could opt for an unchanged side to the one that beat Doncaster Rovers 2-0 on Tuesday, with Junior Stanislas keeping his place having scored in that game. Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier are both notable injury absentees, however.

Leicester's seemingly inevitable title procession has been put on hold after a costly week in which they have drawn to both Blackburn Rovers and struggling Yeovil Town.

Debate continues to rage over who got the late equaliser in Tuesday's match against the Glovers, although Pearson is not likely to care whether it was Kasper Schmeichel or Chris Wood.

The goal has been officially awarded to Wood, but whoever got it saved Leicester's 18-match unbeaten streak, a run that incidentally began with a 1-1 draw against Burnley in mid-December.

That unbeaten run has included 13 victories, and the Foxes will be keen to get back to winning ways at Turf Moor in order to re-establish their stranglehold on the Championship title.

Turf Moor has been the toughest Championship ground for teams to win at this season, but Leicester go into the game with the best away record in the division having picked up 36 points on the road.

Indeed, they are unbeaten in eight matches away from home, with their last loss coming at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium way back on December 7.

Lloyd Dyer has returned to fitness for the visitors, but could be forced to settle for a place on the bench with Riyad Mahrez likely to keep his spot. Paul Konchesky faces a late fitness test for the match, but Sean St Ledger is definitely out.

Recent form

Burnley: WWDWWW

Leicester: WWWWDD

Possible starting lineups

Burnley: Heaton; Baird, Shackell, Duff, Mee; Jones, Marney; Arfield, Barnes, Stanislas; Vokes

Leicester: Schmeichel; De Laet, Wasilewski, Morgan, Schlupp; Knockaert, James, Drinkwater, Mahrez; Vardy, Nugent

Sports Mole says: 1-1

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson looks on ahead of the Championship playoff semi-final against Watford on May 9, 2013
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