Competition: Premier League – Hull City AFC vs. Leicester City FC
Venue: KCOM Stadium – Saturday, August 13 – 12:30 BST (07:30 ET)
Match Odds: Hull 3/1 – Draw 12/5 – Leicester 19/20
It’s been a busy summer of international action and transfer dealings but all eyes will focus back onto what matters most on Saturday – the on-field action.
Hull are back in the top flight after bouncing straight back up from the Championship last term. However, they enter the opening game without a manager, any new signings and several injury worries.Embed from Getty Images
Caretaker manager Mike Phelan has a tough job on his hands to get anything from Saturday’s game but the Tigers’ fans will be buzzing at the prospect of seeing their side back in the bigtime, so a great atmosphere is expected.
Leicester begin their most unlikely title defence as heavy favourites on Saturday, with Claudio Ranieri’s men the first league champions to open the new season.
It’s been a mixed preseason for the Foxes, who enjoyed wins over minnows Oxford United and Nuneaton Town before heavy losses to PSG and Barcelona.Embed from Getty Images
They lost last weekend’s FA Community Shield 2-1 to Manchester United but will now be fully focused on proving to everyone that last season’s league success was no one-off.
This will be just the third time these sides have ever met in the Premier League. They faced off twice in the 2014/15 campaign, with Leicester winning 1-0 at Hull thanks to a Riyad Mahrez goal, before they then drew 0-0 at the King Power Stadium.
Claudio Ranieri will earn his 100th Premier League win as a manager if the Foxes can seal the victory on Saturday in a game they are expected to dominate.Embed from Getty Images
Hull City are facing a bit of a crisis before a ball has even been kicked. They are without a permanent manager and have a host of first-team stars sidelined through injury. Defenders Michael Dawson, Moses Odubajo and Alex Bruce are all ruled out, along with goalkeeper Alan McGregor. Harry Maguire is a doubt and looks set to miss this one, while Shaun Maloney has a higher chance of playing but may also fall short of a place in the starting lineup.
Leicester will begin life without N’Golo Kante here and it will be intriguing to see how much the Frenchman’s departure affects them on Saturday. Claudio Ranieri has no injury worries, however Robert Huth will miss the game through suspension, so new signing Luis Hernandez is expected to fill the void at the back alongside Wes Morgan. Ahmed Musa will be hoping to make his Premier League debut but faces a battle with Shinji Okazaki for a starting berth.
Hull City’s last five: N/A
Leicester’s last five: N/A
Key Stat: This is the first time the Premier League Champions have ever kicked off the new season. The reigning victors have never lost on the opening weekend in 23 years (W19 D4).
Key Player: Jamie Vardy – The Foxes star striker took the league by storm last season and will be looking to hit the ground running this term as Leicester set out to show last year’s feats were no fluke. Vardy bagged a goal in the Community Shield last weekend and looks primed to hurt the Tigers’ defence on Saturday.Embed from Getty Images
Hull 0-2 Leicester – The Foxes should prove to have more bite than the Tigers on Saturday, with a host of injuries doing Hull little in the way of help ahead of what was already a really tricky opener. Leicester proved tough to break down last term and will hope to start the new season with a clean sheet and a fairly comfortable away win to set the tone for their title-chasing rivals.