Five Key Home Games

Most teams go through periods of tough matches throughout the season – especially in the highly-competitive Championship.  Looking ahead at the start of the footballing year, supporters (and perhaps even players and managers) may look at a particular run of fixtures with some concern.  However, this is usually done so with the previous season’s end-of-year standings in mind.  Difficult runs often occur when they are least expected, and it may be more sensible to just focus on one game at a time – so with that in mind, here are five key home games in Leicester City’s 2013/4 Championship campaign (on paper, of course):

1: vs. Leeds United – Sunday 11 August 2013 (4:30pm – Sky Sports)             

This is the Foxes’ first home game of the season, and Nigel Pearson will be determined for his side to make a strong start.  Hopefully, a bumper crowd at the King Power Stadium will be there in full voice to show support for their team in front of the Sky television cameras.  However, playing Leeds United home or away is never an easy proposition;  Leicester have won just once in their last four league outings against Greg McDermott’s men – and the Foxes’ last home win against the Yorkshire side was in 2009.

2: vs. Bournemouth – Saturday 26 October 2013 (3pm)

On paper this may seem like a straightforward home win against a newly promoted side.  But bearing in mind that Bournemouth won 24 league matches last season (eleven times on their travels) and were League One’s top scorers in 2012/3, then this one suddenly becomes a more fixture. Throw a good manager like Eddie Howe into the mix, and you may be looking at a team looking to continue their winning ways and to mount a second successive promotion charge – or at least maintain a positive start to life in the Championship.  The Foxes play all three recently-promoted League One teams in the month of October, so it will be important to provide them all with a real test.

3: vs. Reading – Thursday 26 December 2013 (3pm)

The last time Leicester City won a home game against Reading was 24 August 2002.  The Foxes have also lost their last five against the Berkshire club, so it is safe to say that the Berkshire club are somewhat of a bogey side.  The appointment of Nigel Adkins towards the end of last season was a clear sign that Reading were readying themselves for life in the Championship, and they will certainly have promotion in their sights in 2013/4.  This will also be the second of three fixtures in eight days over Christmas for Leicester City, sandwiched between a trip to Loftus Road and playing host to Bolton Wanderers.

4: vs. Watford – Saturday 8 February 2014 (3pm)

This one goes without saying.  Leicester faced the Hornets on four occasions in 2012/3, losing three times – including the 3-1 heartbreaker at Vicarage Road that ended the Foxes’ sputtering season in dramatic fashion.  Gianfranco Zola’s men are likely to be contenders again next year, and the Italian could have a similarly strong side if he is able to use the Pozzos’ ties with Udinese to secure some of last season’s loan stars such as Matej Vydra and Almen Abdi.  Nigel Pearson and his players must put that playoff loss out of their minds and focus on this season’s prize.  By February 2014, this will be a good indicator of where Leicester City are in terms of becoming a top-flight team.

5: vs. QPR – Saturday 19 April 2014 (3pm)

QPR are already hot favourites to win the Championship despite finishing bottom of the Premier League last season with just four wins and averaging less than one goal (0.79) per game.  Arguably, they have one of the strongest squads in the second-tier, and with Harry Redknapp at the helm, the Rs could be a tough proposition for any side in this division.  In addition, this fixture is played during a congested period for the Foxes, who currently have seven games scheduled for April.  They could play more than that if cup runs or rescheduled fixtures affect them or their opponents, so it will be a good test of Leicester’s ability to use squad depth while attempting to play their best football at the business end of the season.