What, them again?
By Mike Peter
There are many unpleasant things in life which one simply can't avoid. Exams, the taxman, visits to the in-laws, visits to the dentist; all have to be dealt with. Thankfully, life does not conspire for us to do them particularly regularly.
Which is why it seems colossally unfair that we have play not only Wednesday, but Leicester as well, twice in just under a month. At least Wednesday offer the delights of Hillsborough - not the case with the Foxes; I can think of better places to visit on a November evening than the Walkers Identi-Kit stadium. Nor do they offer particularly inspirational football, and whilst they are now playing better than at their Mickey Adams kicking lumps nadir, they are no Uruguay, let alone Brazil. Yet we have to sample their footballing delights a mere thirty-seven days after seeing them meander to a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road.
The Foxes have been on an okay-ish run since their visit to Watford, losing only once in five games. They've also made it through to the fourth round of the League Cup, beating the in-form Cardiff at Ninian Park.
In goal, former Celtic keeper Rab Douglas has filled the gap left by Ian Walker impressively, although he's supposedly weak when coming out of goal. Australian international Paul Henderson is an able back-up.
At right-back is Alan Maybury, one of a number of players taken by Craig Levein from Hearts. Maybury was impressive last season, but is less convincing this year. In reserve are eighteen year old Richard Stearman and Swede Patrick Gerrbrand, although he's partnered lanky hard-man Patrick McCarthy in the centre for the past three games. It is a defensive combination that has inspired some confidence with Foxes fans, with the team not conceding since they paired up - although three games isn't exactly a massive amount of time. One enthusiastic messageboard member describes Gerrbrand as the "new Stevey Walsk (sic)!!!!!" which indicates both the football fan's natural hopefulness and his utter stupidity in one simple statement. Meanwhile, Dion Dublin, who's been playing mostly at centre back lately, has been restored to the attack. Former Blackburn defender Nils-Eric Johansson should play left-back, where he is ahead of £250,000 summer signing Peter Gilbert, who was decidedly unimpressive at the start of the campaign.
In midfield, City have been deploying talented Arsenal loanee ("Walcott-esque!") Ryan Smith and former Celtic man Momo Sylla on the flanks. Aussie nutjob Danny Tiatto must regret retiring from international football, he's out of Leicester's team as well. Other wide-men Lee Morris and Jason Wilcox are both out, although in the latter's case it's because he's only just alive nowadays.
The return of key-man Stephen Hughes (not that one) from injury should see him displace utility lump Patrick Kisnorbo in the centre, with ex-Forest bland-fest Gareth Williams as his partner. The far more exciting and hugely volatile Joey Gudjonsson should be on the bench, along with the lightweight and sporadically talented youngster Joe Hammil.
Up front, Leicester seem to have a number of options, although none of them particularly brilliant. Dion Dublin will no doubt cause us problems, should he be picked. Levein seems to have made no real indication of his first choice pairing, with Ian Hume, Mark De Vries and Elvis Hammond also vying for starting positions. Hume, a 500k signing from Tranmere, has only netted twice so far this season, but it's thought he'll turn out to be a decent Division Two striker. Hulking Mark De Vries, meanwhile, seems to be the antithesis of fellow Hearts alumni Maybury, being fairly useless in 04/05 but pretty decent this season, scoring eight goals so far. Hammond, meanwhile, seems to be a bit of an Agbonlahor, being stupidly quick but lacking any visible footballing talent.
Whether this "resurgent" Leicester defence will last is hugely debatable. One would hope that Young, King and co. can unlock it. And with us seeming to play better away this season, a positive result is pretty likely. Even better, we don't have to play Leicester for another nine months, minimum. Hurray!