Aston Villa v Leicester preview: Micah Richards may return
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 16/01/16 5:32pm
Micah Richards could return as Aston Villa target a second straight Premier League win when they host Leicester on Saturday Night Football at Villa Park, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 5pm.
Captain Richards missed out as Villa beat Crystal Palace 1-0 on Tuesday night - boss Remi Garde's first victory since taking charge - while Leicester also won in midweek by the same scoreline with a late goal at Tottenham.
The two sides played out one of the games of the season in September, as the Foxes came from two goals down to win in the last 20 minutes at the King Power Stadium.
Carlos Sanchez (hamstring), Gabriel Agbonlahor (back) and Jack Grealish (tonsillitis) have returned to training and are in contention for Aston Villa alongside captain Richards (ankle).
But right-back Alan Hutton (hamstring) is out and Jordan Amavi remains sidelined with his season-ending knee injury.
Claudio Ranieri is expected to name an unchanged Leicester squad for the trip. The boss rotated his team for their FA Cup and Barclays Premier League games with Tottenham this week but could stick with the same side which won at White Hart Lane.
Jeff Schlupp is out with a hamstring injury but is expected back by the end of the month while Matty James is closing in on a return after a long-term knee injury.
There have been five red cards in the last seven Premier League meetings between Aston Villa and Leicester.
Aston Villa have won only four of the 19 Premier League match ups with Leicester (D8 L7), but they have won three of the last four at Villa Park (W3 L1).
The Foxes have kept three clean sheets in a row in the league for the first time since May 2015 - they've never kept four consecutively in the Premier League.
Leicester have already claimed two more points this season (43) than they did throughout the entirety of last season (41).
Aston Villa have scored just five first-half goals this season, a league low. They've not scored earlier than the 40th minute in a Premier League game since September (against Leicester).
Since scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games, Jamie Vardy has managed one goal and six shots on target in seven matches.
The lowest points total for a Premier League side to have after 21 games and still avoid relegation is 12 points, set by West Brom in 2004/05. Aston Villa have 11 points.
N'Golo Kante has made the most tackles (85) and interceptions (83) in the Premier League so far in 2015-16.
Leicester now find themselves in a very similar position to Tottenham. Because we are in mid-January, people are starting to think they have a chance. They are second in the league and all of sudden they could start thinking in different ways.
With the ride continuing they could start to believe the hype and think they have a chance of a top-four finish. It all depends on how their nerves hold out. On the other hand, Villa have to win. A draw is no good to them in the position they find themselves. It was a great win for them in midweek, but they have to follow it up with another three points. If they can go and beat Leicester they will be right back in it.
This should be a very entertaining game as Villa need to have a go, while Leicester always have a good go. I think Leicester win this with Vardy getting back in the goals but I'm hoping Villa can pull something off and make it back-to-back wins.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2
Away specialists Leicester are Sky Bet's 6/5 favourites with bottom club Aston Villa 23/10 and the draw 23/10. Villa gave their fans something to shout about with a midweek win against Crystal Palace and can be backed at 8/13 to win or draw in the Double Chance market. Vardy and Riyad Mahrez both to score is 11/2.