46 mins: Oof, what a bit of skill from Grealish, who makes two defenders look very silly with a backheel to Targett, whose cross is just too high for Trezeguet. Villa ending the second half well, after a stodgy start.
45 mins: Ollie Watkins has touched the ball six times; he just hasn’t been able to get into the game. His seventh touch takes him past Evans, but he’s a fraction offside. Two added minutes.
44 mins: A reminder that these sides have collectively beaten the league’s two best teams by an aggregate score of 12-4 this season.
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42 mins: The free kick is five yards to the right of goal, 20 yards out. Douglas Luiz and Targett are standing over it, and the full-back will take it. Can he get it on Targett? He cannot.
41 mins: Another yellow card! This time it’s Tielemans, who goes in late on McGinn as Villa break. Moss plays the advantage, Trezeguet tumbles over Evans’ leg on the edge of the box, and Villa have a dangerous free kick …
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39 mins: Another Villa booking, this time for Matty Cash, who is beaten for pace by Barnes and resorts to grabbing at the Leicester man’s shorts.
38 mins: Cash’s hopeful long ball is chased down by Watkins, who lofts the ball back across goal towards Barkley. He can’t find room to get a shot away and passes to Grealish, who heads down a blind alley before conceding a cheap free kick.
35 mins: Barkley is forced to go backwards by Leicester’s press, but hooks a nice ball out wide to Grealish, who is fouled by Castagne. At this moment in time, a red card feels more likely than a goal.
33 mins: Praet slips a pass to Barnes and drifts left, then spots Castagne in space towards the far post. Regrettably, his attempted cross is terrible.
… and the second moments later as Leicester clear Targett’s free kick and threaten to break, forcing John McGinn to haul Barnes down.
31 mins: The first booking of the game, as Ayoze Perez brings Grealish crashing to the ground …
28 mins: Castagne outfoxes Targett with a dummy and whips in a cross that doesn’t find a teammate. He’s made a lively start, though. The same can’t be said of Ross Barkley, who’s been largely anonymous.
26 mins: Grealish finds space to work his magic, picking up Targett’s pass and wriggling free inside the area. His cut-back finds Trezeguet, who sends his shot wide under pressure. Villa’s best chance, by some distance.
“Over quarter of an hour gone and no goals – can you have a word with the teams?” asked Dave Manby 10 minutes ago. Still no joy.
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23 mins: Leicester are targeting, well, Matt Targett down Villa’s left. Perez picks out Iheanacho, whose curled effort from 20 yards is well held by Martinez.
21 mins: Leicester appeal for a penalty as the onrushing Barnes collides with Cash on the edge of the area. There didn’t seem to be much in that at all. Iheanacho’s pass instead runs through to Castagne, whose shot from a tight angle is dealt with by Martinez.
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19 mins: Leicester’s defensive gameplan has been to smother Grealish, but Praet takes it a step too far, felling Villa’s low-socked playmaker with a badly-timed hack. He’s a little lucky not to be booked. Grealish takes the free kick – and floats his delivery straight to Schmeichel.
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17 mins: … Leicester spring forward, Castagne again at the heart of the move, his sweeping pass reaching Praet after a deft dummy from Harvey Barnes. The Belgian has time to pick out a blue shirt, but his pass is poor and Villa clear.
16 mins: Matty Cash swings a cross towards Watkins, but Fofana is well-placed to thunk it clear …
“More on Jamie Vardy’s hot drink.” Thank you, Graeme Thorn. “Given his background in Sheffield area non-league, surely it should be Bovril?” It would be an excellent choice on what looks a damp and chilly night in Leicester.
12 mins: Martínez had a pretty grim international break – the keeper travelled to Ecuador and Bolivia with Argentina, but didn’t get a minute of game time.
11 mins: Justin’s through ball almost catches the Villa back line napping, with Iheanacho – who was a fraction offside – denied by the onrushing Martinez, who gets a whack in the process.
10 mins: A little livelier from Leicester, with Castagne roaring down the right again and pulling the ball back to Mendy, whose cross is nodded away by Esri Konsa.
6 mins: Ayoze Perez, who has zero goals in six previous games against Villa, scuffs a weak shot straight at Martinez.
Jamie Vardy, who has five goals in five games against Villa, is watching on from the stands and enjoying an instant coffee. Or maybe a cup-a-soup, I’m not sure. More as we get it.
4 mins: A rough-and-tumble start, with Iheanacho barging Mings over before Watkins introduces Fofana to the Premier League, clattering the poor lad to the floor.
2 mins: Perez prods the ball out wide to Castagne, whose cross towards the far post is overhit. Just before that, Watkins stayed down momentarily after a heavy challenge, but seems OK to continue.
The players take a knee together, before Jonathan Moss gets this show on the road.
“Evening Niall.” Hello, Simon McMahon. “I don’t think we’ll see any silly score lines tonight. I’m going for a good old-fashioned 9-3, though don’t ask me who to.” Bold of you to assume one of these defences will only ship three, Simon.
A reminder that the corresponding fixture last season finished 4-0 to Leicester at a packed King Power. It was the last Premier League game before the shutdown, and feels about 100 years ago.
Here’s Dean Smith, who denies the international break came at the wrong time for Villa: “The lads who went away have done well, Jack Grealish was man of the match for England. We’ve used the time well and we still come here on the back of a great win.”
Now Brendan Rodgers: “The lessons learned from West Ham are that you have to be right at it, or you’ll lose. [Vardy] is a few games away, we’ve got a lot of injuries to our starters, but I’m excited by some of the players coming in, including Wesley [Fofana] who’s making his debut.”
This game is, of course, a Sky pay-per-view offering – my first taste of PPV football since an ill-advised Prem Plus binge back in 2003. I’m surprised that the coverage only begins 15 minutes before kick-off, with no studio punditry – just a solo commentator, and a shot of an empty pitch.
Three top-flight games so far today, and three late equalisers. Yowza!
Jonny Evans is fit to start in a reshaped back four, alongside big-money summer recruit Wesley Fofana, who makes his full debut. No Jamie Vardy though, with Kelechi Iheanacho leading the line in his place. Villa are unchanged from their thrashing of Liverpool, and why not?
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Leicester City (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Castagne, Evans, Fofana, Justin; Mendy, Tielemans, Praet; Pérez, Iheanacho, Barnes.
Subs: Ward, Morgan, Maddison, Albrighton, Slimani, Under, Choudhury.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Douglas Luiz, McGinn; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.
Subs: Steer, Hourihane, Traore, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Engels, Elmohamady.
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Team news coming momentarily, but first: West Ham have just levelled at Spurs through an absolute screamer from Manuel Lanzini. They were 3-0 down after 16 minutes, still three down after 81 minutes; now they’ve earned a point. The dangers of mixing Spurs and Barclays on a Sunday.
It’s early days, but this season’s title race already has the feel of a particularly chaotic instalment of Wacky Races. Victory for either team tonight would lift them to second place, tucked in behind Everton and clear of the dust cloud packed with misfiring big hitters.
Leicester have been surprise title contenders so often, the label doesn’t really fit any more. Brendan Rodgers’ side looked to have shaken off last season’s slump with that riotous 5-2 win at the Etihad, only to stall at home to West Ham. Rodgers now has to manage his squad through a rough patch of injuries and upcoming Europa League commitments.
This season’s real surprise package are Aston Villa, who looked out of their depth for much of last term before finding form to escape the drop, and carrying that momentum forward (sound familiar?) In a season of weird and wonderful results, they set the bar ludicrously high by beating Liverpool 7-2, a scoreline that still beggars belief.
All of which leaves Leicester looking vulnerable, and Villa fans daring to dream big with a favourable fixture list between now and Christmas. Cue a 4-0 home win, then. The Premier League’s perpetual chaos teaches us to always expect the unexpected. Kick-off is at 7.15pm, BST.
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