MX23RW : Wednesday, June 16 08:19:12| >> :60:148:148:
Jan 8, 2020 at 8pm UK at King Power Stadium
Attendance: 31,280
LeicesterLeicester City
1-1
Aston Villa
Iheanacho (74')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Guilbert (28')

Preview: Leicester City vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg between Leicester City and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two sides at opposite ends of the Premier League table will put their top-flight duties on hold on Wednesday as Leicester City welcome Aston Villa to the King Power Stadium for the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

The Foxes will be desperate to mark what has been a fine season so far with silverware, while a Wembley outing for Aston Villa could help to distract from their ongoing relegation battle in the Premier League.


Match preview

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring their fourth goal in December, 2019© Reuters

There was a time when these two sides were among the main forces in this competition, winning it four times between them in a seven-year spell at the end of the 1990s.

However, neither of them have lifted the trophy since Leicester last did so in 2000, while Villa are the only one of them to have even made the final since then, reaching Wembley in 2009-10.

For the third time in a row, then, the first year of a new decade is guaranteed to see at least one of these teams in the final, and it is Leicester who go into this last-four tie as overwhelming favourites to reach the showpiece.

There is good reason for that too; the Foxes are 24 points better off than their opponents in the Premier League, sitting above champions Manchester City in second place after 21 games whereas Aston Villa are hovering just one place and one point above the relegation zone.

Brendan Rodgers's side have recovered from sobering back-to-back defeats against Man City and Liverpool either side of Christmas to win their last three games in a row, most recently a 2-0 triumph over Wigan Athletic to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers pictured in December 2019© Reuters

It is a season which almost deserves silverware, and Leicester are in a relatively privileged position in that they can afford Wednesday's match their full attention, with 13 points separating them from runaway leaders Liverpool but a 14-point lead over fifth-placed Manchester United in the Premier League.

Liverpool are the only team to have beaten Leicester in front of their own fans this season, although this will be their first taste of EFL Cup action at the King Power in 2019-20.

Victories over Newcastle United, Luton Town, Burton Albion and Everton have all come away from home, with penalty shootouts needed in both of their previous meetings against Premier League opposition.

Aston Villa will be delighted if they are able to take a draw back to Villa Park for the second leg, but the omens do not look good for Dean Smith's side.

Leicester ran out comfortable 4-1 winners at Villa Park when the two sides met in the Premier League exactly a month before this contest, and since then the Villans have been beaten by Sheffield United, Southampton, Watford and most recently Fulham, the latter result dumping them out of the FA Cup.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith celebrates after the match on January 1, 2019© Reuters

A 2-1 triumph over Burnley on New Year's Day was at least enough to lift them out of the relegation zone, but even that result came at a high cost as Tom Heaton and Wesley both suffered season-ending injuries.

The Turf Moor victory is their only win on the road in eight attempts stretching back to October, losing six of those, but they have beaten Premier League opposition away from home in this competition already this season.

Indeed, it has been an eye-catching run to the semi-finals for Smith's men, averaging four goals per game while beating Crewe Alexandra, Brighton & Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool to reach the last four.

The latter result should have an asterisk next to it, with Liverpool forced to play their Under-23 side due to the first-team squad being out in Qatar for the Club World Cup, but Villa have nonetheless been forced to overcome the odds on a couple of occasions already this term.

Should they do so again then a final against either Manchester United or Manchester City could await them, although their clear priority for the remainder of the campaign must be survival in the Premier League.

Leicester EFL Cup form: WWWW
Leicester form (all competitions): WLLWWW

Aston Villa EFL Cup form: WWWW
Aston Villa form (all competitions): WLWLWL


Team News

Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring for Leicester City at Aston Villa on December 8, 2019© Reuters

Jamie Vardy, who scored twice when the two sides met a month ago, has missed the last three games for a variety of reasons and remains a doubt for this one due to a calf problem.

However, Rodgers is hopeful that his top scorer will recover in time for this match, and if he is passed fit then he is likely to come straight back into the team.

Indeed, with Wes Morgan, Filip Benkovic and long-term absentee Matty James the only other injury concerns it is expected to be a full-strength side for the hosts, particularly after they were able to make 10 changes in the FA Cup win at the weekend.

Villa will be without key players such as Wesley, Heaton and John McGinn, while this match also comes too soon for Keinan Davis, Jed Steer and Matt Targett.

Orjan Nyland will play in goal for the visitors, who will also welcome back the likes of Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings after they were given the weekend off in the FA Cup.

Leicester possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Chilwell; Perez, Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Konsa, Mings, Hause; Guilbert, Luiz, Nakamba, Taylor; Trezeguet, Kodjia, Grealish


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Leicester 3-0 Aston Villa

It is hard to see anything other than a comfortable Leicester win in this match, particularly if they field a full-strength side against Villa's injury-ravaged options. The Foxes cruised to victory at Villa Park in the league and are likely to find it even easier in front of their own fans, and the visitors will do well to simply still be in the tie after this first leg.



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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38275683325186
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd382111673442974
3Liverpool38209968422669
4Chelsea381910958362267
5Leicester CityLeicester382061268501866
6West Ham UnitedWest Ham381981162471565
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs381881268452362
8Arsenal381871355391661
9Leeds UnitedLeeds38185156254859
10Everton38178134748-159
11Aston Villa38167155546955
12Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174662-1645
13Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38129173652-1645
14Crystal Palace38128184166-2544
15Southampton38127194768-2143
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914154046-641
17Burnley38109193355-2239
RFulham38513202753-2628
RWest Bromwich AlbionWest Brom38511223576-4126
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3872292063-4323

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