Preview: Stoke City vs. Leicester

Preview: Stoke vs. Leicester
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Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Stoke and Leicester as both sides look to build on positive results picked up prior to the international break.

Stoke City and Leicester City return to Premier League action on Saturday both looking to build on promising results picked up prior to the international break.

Mark Hughes took three bonus points away from his visit to former club Manchester City as Mame Biram Diouf's solo goal shocked the reigning champions.

The Senegalese striker opened his account for the Potters by running the length of the field and evading two City challenges before squeezing a shot under Joe Hart.

That result will go some way to helping Stoke fans forget a shaky start to the season which had seen them lose at home to Aston Villa and fail to beat 10-man Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Leicester are winless from their three matches, but can be proud of and encouraged by the way that they have dealt with their top-flight baptism of fire, having played three of last season's top five.

A second goal from club-record signing Leonardo Ulloa earned the Foxes a 1-1 draw with Arsenal a fortnight ago. The £8m striker previously scored as they battled to a 2-2 opening-day draw with Everton.

Only title favourites Chelsea have bested the Championship winners thus far, and so Nigel Pearson and his troops will approach their trip to a Stoke side in transition with a great deal of confidence.

While the Britannia Stadium does perhaps not boast the same battleground fear factor now that Mark Hughes has introduced a less physical style of play, it is still one of the division's most difficult away trips.

Only the top four lost fewer home games than Stoke last season, and therefore Pearson could be tempted to hand a debut to decorated Argentine new boy Esteban Cambiasso in the centre of the park.

Leicester's manager has hailed the impact that the former Real Madrid and Inter Milan star has had at the King Power Stadium without even kicking a ball, and may unleash him on the Potters this weekend.

Competition for midfield places is rife at the newly-promoted club, with Andy King, Danny Drinkwater and Dean Hammond all vying for position and hoping to benefit from Cambiasso's experience.

It could be Welsh international King who gets the nod, with Hammond dropping out in what would be an otherwise-unchanged Leicester XI, with impressive winger Riyad Mahrez continuing on the right.

Tom Lawrence and Nick Powell, bought and loaned respectively from Manchester United on deadline day, could come into the travelling squad to provide attacking options and youthful exuberance, but another Old Trafford alumni, Matty James, is not yet in contention, and Matthew Upson remains sidelined.

Hughes is missing Stephen Ireland, Geoff Cameron and Peter Odemwingie, who has been ruled out until Christmas. Oussama Assaidi, brought back to the club on loan from Liverpool to compensate for Odemwingie's injury, is working his way up to full fitness and is not yet in the first-team reckoning.

That could open up a space for Bojan in Stoke's attacking midfield trio, with the silky Spaniard having not started since the opening day of the season. Peter Crouch may drop out, with Diouf shifted centrally.

Marko Arnautovic is likely to be preferred to Jonathan Walters on the wing and Marc Wilson's displays alongside the in-form Ryan Shawcross will continue to keep fit-again Robert Huth on the bench.

This is the first top-flight meeting between the sides since a 2-2 draw at the start of the 1984-85 campaign.

Recent form

Stoke: WWDL

Leicester: DLLD

Possible starting lineups

Stoke: Begovic; Bardsley, Wilson, Shawcross, Pieters; Whelan, N'Zonzi; Moses, Bojan, Walters; Diouf

Leicester: Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky; Mahrez, Cambiasso, King, Schlupp; Nugent, Ulloa

Sports Mole says: 1-0

Who will win Saturday's match between Stoke and Leicester at the Britannia Stadium?

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