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Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

West Bromwich Albion return to Premier League action for the first time since 2018 on Sunday when they welcome Leicester City to the Hawthorns on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 season.

The newly-promoted Baggies are among the favourites to be relegated straight back to the Championship this season and face a difficult first test against a team that occupied a Champions League place for much of last term.


Match preview

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic on June 20, 2020© Reuters

One of the advantages of the quick turnaround between seasons for West Brom will be that the feel-good factor from promotion last term will still be very much prevalent.

On the flip side, for Leicester the disappointment of missing out of a Champions League spot will also be fresh in their minds and Brendan Rodgers will hope that their form post-lockdown does not extend into the new season too.

After week six of last season the Foxes did not drop out of the top four until the penultimate week of the campaign, but crucially they finished fifth having been unable to sustain a brilliant early-season run of form which saw them win 12 of their opening 16 matches.

Leicester only won six more times throughout the campaign after that, and the final nail in their coffin was the 2-0 home defeat against fellow Champions League hopefuls Manchester United on the last day.

Leicester have not won any of their last four opening-weekend Premier League games - including a 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2019-20 - and Rodgers will know that replicating their form from the first half of last season will be a huge ask.

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers pictured on July 1, 2020© Reuters

Sunday's hosts may consider their trip to the Hawthorns to be a relatively kind way to begin the new campaign, though, particularly as the Baggies also ended last season in underwhelming form.

Had it not been for an untimely wobble from Brentford too, Slaven Bilic's side may not have even been in the Premier League this season, as just three points from their final four Championship games opened a door to automatic promotion which the Bees were ultimately unable to step through.

The fact that West Brom only lost seven games in a division as unpredictable and challenging as the Championship proves that they are a difficult team to beat under Bilic, though, and that is a trait which will come in handy this season.

It was certainly not something they had on their last taste of top-flight football, when they lost half of their matches en route to finishing bottom in 2017-18.

Nor is it something they have been able to boast in past home games against Leicester, having lost each of their last four such matches; Leicester have never won five successive away Premier League games against a specific opponent.

As far as pre-season is concerned, West Brom's solitary outing saw them play out a stalemate with Brighton & Hove Albion, whereas Leicester have beaten Birmingham City but drawn with Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers.

West Bromwich Albion pre-season form: D

Leicester City pre-season form: WDD


Team News

James Maddison in action for Leicester City on July 1, 2020© Reuters

Leicester have a number of injury concerns ahead of their opening match, most notably in defence where Rodgers looks alarmingly short of options.

Jonny Evans will miss the first three games of the season after picking up a red card on the final day last term, while Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs and Daniel Amartey are all doubtful and Ricardo Pereira and Filip Benkovic are still sidelined with problems carried over from 2019-20.

Rodgers was forced to deploy Wilfred Ndidi as a makeshift centre-back in the last pre-season outing and could do so again for this match, while Josh Knight, who spent last season out on loan at Peterborough United, is another option.

New signing Timothy Castagne could make his debut for the club at left-back following Ben Chilwell's summer departure, although Luke Thomas provides another option at full-back too.

In addition to those defensive issues, Rodgers could also be without James Maddison, who is still struggling with a hip injury from last season. The 2019-20 Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy is fit to lead the line, though.

West Brom have far fewer problems, with Conor Townsend and Kenneth Zohore their only two injury doubts heading into this match.

Grady Diangana, Callum Robinson and Matheus Pereira - the latter of whom chalked up 20 assists in the Championship last season - have all seen their loan moves made into permanent ones over the summer.

Goalkeeper David Button and centre-back Cedric Kipre are the other new arrivals who will be hoping to make their debuts at the Hawthorns this weekend.

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; O'Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Gibbs; Livermore, Sawyers; Phillips, Pereira, Diangana; Austin

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Justin, Ndidi, Soyuncu, Castagne; Gray, Tielemans, Mendy, Praet, Barnes; Vardy


SM words green background

We say: West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Leicester City

Leicester have significant injury problems, particularly in defence, and had they come up against a tougher test on the opening day then a losing start would be likely.

However, West Brom are likely to find points difficult to come by this season and the Foxes still have plenty of quality at their disposal, so we are backing an away win.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers pictured on July 1, 2020
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Leicester season preview - predictions, fixtures, summer signings, starting XI
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bournemouth8530146818
2Fulham85121871116
3West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom8440147716
4Coventry CityCoventry851296316
5Stoke CityStoke84221110114
6Blackburn RoversBlackburn8341118313
7Huddersfield TownHuddersfield84131311213
8Queens Park RangersQPR83321612412
9Bristol City8332109112
10Cardiff CityCardiff8323119211
11Birmingham CityBirmingham83231010011
12Derby CountyDerby824267-110
13Luton TownLuton82421214-210
14Reading83141518-310
15Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd8233121209
16Middlesbrough8233910-19
17Preston North EndPreston8233911-29
18Millwall8152810-28
19Barnsley815269-38
20Blackpool8224712-58
21Swansea CitySwansea8143711-47
22Peterborough UnitedPeterborough82151017-77
23Hull City8125512-75
24Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest8116712-54

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