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Everton vs Leicester City: The Opposition View

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We spoke to Foxes fan and writer Dylan Durbin prior to Wednesday’s clash at Goodison

Everton v Leicester City - Carabao Cup - Quarter Final - Goodison Park
Leicester beat Everton on penalties at Goodison Park in December’s Carabao Cup clash
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Everton will be out for revenge on Wednesday evening when they host Leicester City in their third game since the Premier League’s restart.

The Foxes broke Blues’ hearts with a stoppage-time winner in the reverse fixture in December, before knocking them out of the EFL Cup quarter-finals with a penalty shootout victory at Goodison Park.

Though, having looked like potential title challengers in the first half of the season, Leicester’s form has dipped noticeably, and have won just three of 11 Premier League games since the start of 2020.

Brendan Rodgers’ side still sit third, three points ahead of Wolves and Manchester United in joint-fifth, but were knocked out of the FA Cup on Sunday by Chelsea and haven’t won since the restart.

The game looks set to go ahead despite the city of Leicester being placed under a tighter lockdown than the rest of England on Monday due to a spike in COVID-19 positive tests.

Ahead of Wednesday’s game, we spoke to Foxes fan and writer, Dylan Durbin:

RBM: Firstly, what’s behind Leicester drop in form? Are we simply seeing the pitfalls of a small squad like theirs, or are the problems deeper than that?

Dylan: I think that’s part of the reason; the squad size is one of the issues with the team and should be an area addressed in the summer. Although, Leicester haven’t been playing close to the potential the side has recently, which is disappointing to see.

Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Leicester’s form has faltered since Christmas
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

RBM: Do you feel Leicester are among the Premier League clubs who have suffered from an absence of fans the most since the restart?

Dylan: The loss of the fans has definitely seemed to have had a impact on how the team’s been performing, particularly at home to Brighton last week [0-0]; it was the kind of game where the fans would have made the players find an extra gear when they were playing so lethargically.

However, I don’t really feel as though they’ve suffered from it more than any other team in the league has.

RBM: Leicester haven’t won any of their three matches since the restart, continuing their indifferent post-Christmas form before the break. How big a concern have recent performances been for you?

Dylan: It is concerning, with not long left of the season and not a lot of time for the team to find their form again. The performances have looked very rusty, particularly going forwards.

The side needs to get its spark back, James Maddison being out hurts in that area also and I’m sure the fans as well as the manager will be hoping he’s back very quickly.

Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
The Foxes were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea on Sunday
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

RBM: Champions League qualification looked a certainty for Leicester at Christmas. With the gap to the chasing pack decreasing, do you still feel confident in them getting over the line?

Dylan: It’s frustrating, having such a big gap over fifth place a couple of months ago and looking forward to watching Leicester in the Champions League again.

Now it looks like it will be a struggle to qualify, especially with Manchester United and Wolves playing so well; it seems likely that Leicester will drop out the top four, which is a real shame as these opportunities don’t come along often.

Finishing in the top six and getting into the Europa League would have been seen as a big success at the start of the season, but now will feel very underwhelming.

RBM: Right-back Ricardo Pereira will miss the rest of the season with a ligament injury. How big a miss has he been, and how well has £8 million man James Justin done in deputising for him?

Dylan: Ricardo has been one of the best and most consistent players in the squad since he joined; we’re already seeing the effects of not having him in the side. He really helps create the transition from defence to attack and is always capable of causing defences problems with his runs up the wing.

Justin has had ups and downs since the restart, before the lockdown he had an excellent game in place of Ben Chilwell at left-back, although Ricardo’s boots seem much bigger to fill.

Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Justin was a £8 million signing from Luton last summer
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

RBM: Jamie Vardy, 33, remains the league’s top scorer this term with 19 goals but has netted in just one of his last 13 games. Do you think he’s simply been found out by opposition defences, or is age starting to catch up with him?

Dylan: I don’t think defences have done anything differently to stop Vardy since his form in the first half of the season; everyone already knew exactly how he would play.

I wouldn’t put the drop in goalscoring form solely down to Vardy is playing. The chances haven’t exactly been flowing; the team as a whole has been struggling to create real chances.

Maybe that’s due to the players not being as sharp as they were earlier in the season, but also teams appear to be setting up more defensively compact, not allowing Leicester any space to create which is something they are struggling to deal with.

RBM: How do you expect Leicester to set up on Wednesday?

Dylan: I wouldn’t expect too many changes from the team that played against Chelsea at the weekend. James Maddison may be unavailable again which is a big issue for Rodgers and doesn’t help the lack of creativity.

Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Maddison is struggling with a hip injury and may miss Wednesday’s game
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

RBM: Which of Leicester’s players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Dylan: With some of our biggest impact players currently out such as Maddison and Pereira, and the poor form the side’s been in recently, it’s a struggle to pick out a player that will cause Everton problems.

But I would still say Vardy; you can never count him out and he doesn’t normally stop scoring for long.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Wednesday’s game?

Dylan: Looking at the form of the two sides I find it hard to see Leicester getting anything from this game. I’ll go for a 3-1 win for Everton.

Our thanks to Dylan for his time.