League leaders Leicester City host struggling Newcastle United at the King Power Stadium on Monday night knowing that they will still top of the table regardless of what happens.
Claudio Ranieri’s side are two points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur with just nine games to go, and will be looking to regain their five-point advantage as their dream of causing a gigantic upset and winning the title are slowly becoming a real possibility.
Last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Watford, thanks to a winner from Riyad Mahrez, was their second victory in three games since being defeated late on against Arsenal last month, which was just their third loss this campaign.
Incredibly, this time last season, the Foxes had five points less than their opponents from the north-east.
Meanwhile, time finally ran out for ex-Newcastle boss Steve McClaren at the end of week, and he was sacked by the club on Friday after picking up just six wins from his 28 Premier League matches in charge, which has left the Magpies second-from-bottom – a point adrift of safety.
Last Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat against Bournemouth proved to be the final straw for the board, and he was quickly replaced by former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez, who was sacked by Real Madrid back in January.
His task, although difficult, is still salvageable – but he must improve their form quickly, with Newcastle having won just two of their last 10 league games, losing their last three.
Star man Riyad Mahrez should be fit for the hosts after a hamstring worry last week turned out to be just a cramp, while Matty James is their only absentee.
For the visitors, Paul Dummett is out for a month, and he is one of 13 injury concerns in total.
Benitez could have Andros Townsend available, but he faces a late fitness test – likewise Fabricio Coloccini, Papiss Cisse and Cheikh Tiote.
League Position: Leicester City – 1st (60 pts); Newcastle United – 19th (24 pts)
Previous Meeting: Newcastle United 0-3 Leicester City (October 31, 2015)
Form: Leicester City – WWLWDW; Newcastle United – LLWLLL
Key Men: Leicester City – Riyad Mahrez; Newcastle United – Jonjo Shelvey
Shoot Says: Leicester City 2-1 Newcastle United