Leicester City will kick off their 2019/20 Premier League campaign against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
These two teams are touted to be among the best outside the top six and both will look to break that ceiling this term.
Brendan Rodgers came in for Claude Puel this February and looks to have already infused a fresh breath of life into the club. The former Liverpool and Celtic manager is now aiming to break into the top six and has a team capable of doing it.
Despite losing English defender Harry Maguire to Manchester United for a world-record fee, the additions of Ayoze Perez from Newcastle and Dennis Praet from Sampdoria along with converting Youri Tielemans’ loan into a permanent deal enhance a pretty good squad.
Now, a solid home record will be vital for any top-six push and Rodgers will be hoping for the perfect start in front of home fans to improve on the 9th-place finish from the previous season.
Coming to their opponents, Wolves have already started their season due to their European commitments. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side finished 7th in the PL table last season, a remarkable achievement considering they were playing in the second division the season before.
A slice of luck fetched them a qualifying spot in the Europa League, which also implied an early start to the season. Normally, the long European trips in the tournament prove detrimental for mid-table teams due to the absence of enough squad depth. However, Wolves have added well to their ranks this summer.
Star forward Raul Jimenez and midfielder Leander Dendoncker loan deals were made permanent while AC Milan striker Patrick Cutrone and Lazio winger Pedro Neto joined the squad. Further, defender Jesus Vallejo was signed from Real Madrid on loan, another huge coup for the club.
Thus, Wolves look set to assault the top-six dominance this season and a difficult away trip is the perfect opportunity to stake a claim.
In terms of team news, Rodgers has a clean bill of health. The only big decision for the Foxes manager is to pick between veteran Wes Morgan and Caglar Soyuncu to partner Jonny Evans in defence. Rest of the team picks itself with new signing Perez set to make his first competitive start for the club.
Coming to Wolves, Morgan Gibbs-White is the only doubt with Santo having the rest of his squad available. None of the new signings can be expected to start with the gaffer likely to prefer his tried and tested system and personnel for the season-opener.
Head-To-Head and Leicester vs Wolves Prediction
In terms of head-to-head, both teams have met 113 times in history, with Leicester winning 38 to the Wolves’ 43. Last season, both teams won their respective home matches in the league, highlighting their strengths at home.
In fact, Wolves are poor travellers, having won just 6 of their 19 away games in the PL last season. Further, the visitors will be playing on the back of a long journey to Armenia for the Europa League qualifying third round on Thursday, giving the hosts further advantage.
In terms of form though, both teams are in a good moment. Leicester have won 5 of their 6 pre-season games, including a 2-1 win over Serie A side Atalanta, who are set to in the UEFA Champions League this season.
Meanwhile, Wolves won the PL Asia trophy, beating Manchester City on penalties before winning each of their 3 games in the Europa League qualifying so far.
Thus, form and head-to-head promise a close contest with Leicester picking up a home win in the end.
Predicted Leicester XI: Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Chilwell; Ndidi, Tielemans; Perez, Maddison, Albrighton; Vardy
Predicted Wolves XI: Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jimenez, Jota