Leicester v Newcastle: Riyad Mahrez fit for Monday Night Football clash
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 14/03/16 6:32pm
Riyad Mahrez is fit to face Newcastle as their new manager Rafael Benitez takes his side to Leicester on Monday Night Football.
The winger is available to Claudio Ranieri despite being forced off with an apparent hamstring injury against Watford after scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road.
Benitez takes charge of Newcastle for the first time since replacing Steve McClaren on Friday, with his side second bottom of the Premier League table.
They have lost 17 of their last 21 top-flight away matches, but head to the King Power Stadium with the opportunity to leapfrog local rivals Sunderland with the Tyne-Wear derby to come next Sunday, also live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
As well as Mahrez, there is more good news for the hosts as Matty James has returned to full training following a serious knee injury. He has missed all of the season so far but is unlikely to be risked.
Benitez will assess his players ahead of the match, but will not have left-back Paul Dummett at his disposal after he aggravated a hamstring problem during last weekend's 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth. Skipper Fabricio Coloccini remains a doubt with a calf injury.
Andros Townsend will hope to have shaken off the hamstring issue that has kept him out of the last two games, but goalkeeper Tim Krul (knee), defenders Chancel Mbemba (ankle), Massadio Haidara (knee) and Kevin Mbabu (thigh) and midfielder Gabriel Obertan (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.
The Foxes have won the last two Premier League games against Newcastle after winning none of the previous seven (D3 L4), and the hosts have lost just one of their last 17 games at the King Power Stadium (W11 D5 L1).
Ranieri's team has kept a clean sheet in five of their last six top-flight home matches, but conceded two goals in their last league game there (2-2 v WBA).
The Magpies have scored just eight goals in their last 20 away league games, failing to score at all in 13 of these matches.
Newcastle have lost their last eight league matches played on a Monday and have failed to score in the last five. All eight of these have been away from home.
Mahrez has been involved in a league-high 26 Premier League goals this season (15 goals, 11 assists) and is the only player to be in double figures for both goals and assists.
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I fancy Leicester strongly because there's just as much pressure on Newcastle, and if they win on Monday I think Leicester put Arsenal to bed. They are eight points clear at the moment, and if they win this game they will be 11 clear and Arsenal have a game in hand.
If Arsenal take six points from their three difficult away games - against Everton, West Ham and Man City - they've done very well. Those six points take them five behind Leicester and Leicester would have two games in hand. I don't see how Arsenal can make it up.
I watched Newcastle play Bournemouth last week and if they play anything like that again, this will be all over at half-time. I worry for them a lot. Bournemouth were so far advanced last week, and it was just scary considering the amount of money they've spent.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (Sky Bet, 11/1)