Bournemouth vs Leicester predictions: Foxes can maintain winning run
Leicester finally earned their first win of the season last Monday, beating Nottingham Forest 4-0 to lift themselves off the bottom of the Premier League.
Now they face fellow strugglers Bournemouth, and Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers will be praying for back-to-back wins that might finally shift the spotlight off him and his underperforming Foxes side.
Opposite number Gary O'Neil might not mind having the focus of attention entirely on him, however, with the interim Bournemouth boss stepping into the firing line at the Vitality Stadium but deflecting every threat that has come his way.
O'Neil's chances of landing a plum job with the Cherries would be further enhanced with another victory this weekend – a success that would make it two wins and three draws from five matches in charge.
As such, both managers go into Saturday's clash knowing that the result on the south coast could have a significant bearing on their future roles at their respective clubs.
O'Neil has several players nearing a return to full fitness, but this weekend's clash against Leicester is likely to come too soon for as many as five of his squad.
Captain Lloyd Kelly looks likely to miss out as the defender recovers from an ankle injury, and while midfielders Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell have an outside chance of taking a place on the bench, O'Neil will be banking on neither.
Right-back Ryan Fredericks is also closing in on a return but is only 50/50 for this match, and David Brooks has been ruled out following a minor setback in his long road to recovery.
Leicester's treatment room is as empty as it has been for over a year, with only long-term absentees Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand ruled out and not expected back until the new year.
There will be slight doubt over Wilfred Ndidi's participation after he returned early from international duty with a tight hamstring and came off at half-time against Forest.
However, Rodgers suggested that Ndidi's withdrawal on Monday night was merely precautionary, with Leicester already cruising and 3-0 ahead when the midfielder was withdrawn.
There has not been an away win in any of the last ten matches between Bournemouth and Leicester, with the Foxes last to claim three points on the road in this fixture back in 2014.
The last four meetings have provided home wins, with Bournemouth scoring four goals in both a 4-1 win over Leicester in 2019-20 and a 4-2 victory the season before.
However, neither side has scored more than twice in a match this season bar for their respective games against Nottingham Forest – Bournemouth won 3-2 away at Forest in early September, while Leicester thumped them 4-0 on Monday.
But while that was the first time Rodgers' side had cut loose in 2022-23, they had shown hints of finding their feet in the matches running up to it. Leicester recorded exactly 1.7 expected goals against all three of Tottenham, Brighton and Chelsea but lost those matches 6-2, 5-2 and 2-1, respectively.
Indeed, only the top three and Liverpool and Brentford have scored more goals than the Foxes this season – it is in defence where Rodgers' problems lay.
No Premier League side has conceded more goals than Leicester's 22 this term, but Bournemouth have the third-worst defensive record in the top flight, conceding 19 goals in eight outings.
With Leicester's front line starting to click and neither defence showing any sign of sturdiness, this match could be a thrilling watch for the neutral.
James Maddison is in stunning form, and most of Brendan Rodgers' first-choice XI is back looking fit.
Indeed, the recent international break could prove a turning point for a Leicester squad that boasts far too much quality to remain mired in the relegation scrap and has the potential to show rapid improvement. Rodgers' claim that there were positives to take from a 6-2 hiding at Tottenham may have sounded absurd in the wake of such a heavy defeat, but he had a point – his side dominated for long periods of that match, and the scale of the victory greatly flattered Spurs.
Backing that statement up with an emphatic defeat of rivals Forest suggests that there is more to come from Leicester, but the opposite seems true of Bournemouth.
The Cherries have been lauded for their results under O'Neil, but their performances have been less impressive, and they arguably deserved to lose at least three of his four matches in charge.
It feels like only a matter of time before the bubble bursts for O'Neil. While victory over a poor Forest side is not enough to claim that Leicester are back and value at 21/20, a smaller stake bet on a Leicester win in a match containing over 2.5 goals at 21/10 looks a decent option.