Aston Villa v Leicester 2016

The last time Garde and Ranieri met was when Lyon faced Monaco in Ligue 1. Both of those teams had their sights on the higher reaches of the French league then, but it’s only a Leicester side tipped for top four who can boast those aspirations on Saturday.

Saturday’s Midlands clash will undoubtedly bring back terrible memories of Villa’s capitulation at the King Power stadium last year. A turning point in both team’s seasons. Villa got a couple of decent wins against Leicester last season though – can they build on the surprise midweek win?

the foxes have the league’s best away record, with 24 points from 11 away matches

Garde on Leicester

“The win for Leicester against Villa earlier this season was a very important win for them. To beat them this weekend would be a big boost for us.

“The victory over Palace gave us more confidence. The players know the level they can play at. Hopefully we can do this from now until the end of the season.

I knew Claudio when he was at Monaco. He is a very experienced manager. He is working very well.

“I congratulate Claudio on what he’s doing at Leicester.

“The last game is something for us to build on. The players know the level they can play at. Hopefully we can do this from now until the end of the season.

“The Leicester game will be very difficult. They defend very, very well. They have all their players working very hard and then have two or three individual players who can make the difference at any moment.”

Ranieri on Villa

“This is another tough match, perhaps tougher than Tottenham.

“Villa are a good team and I remember the first game how difficult it was to beat them.

“They have won their last match and they are now confident. They are confident and it’s important to see our mentality.

“Okay, we won against Tottenham, fantastic because it’s not easy to go there and win, but now it’s important how we change out mentality are ready to fight again.

“This maybe is a key match. It could be. Maybe Saturday we are thinking about the Tottenham match, but we must forget that, it’s not important now.

“We got three points, but look forward. That’s the mentality now.”

Memory Match

15 Feb 2015 Aston Villa 2 Leicester 1 

Sherwood watched from the stands as Villa saw off Leicester along the way to the FA Cup Final.

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 2, L 2   

Leicester – Last five matches away: W 4, L 1  

One to Watch

Riyad Mahrez – Despite the form of Vardy Mahrez has also particularly impressed this season

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Sadly, Villa’s league aspirations couldn’t be further apart from those of Leicester. Still, we’re still in the same division for now, so we might as well go all out – although it won’t be easy.
Leicester have been ruthless away at relegation-threatened teams and have won 3-0 twice in their last five away games (Newcastle and Swansea). In fact, they have the league’s best away record, with 24 points from 11 away matches.
The Foxes found it difficult at Villa Park last season, which not a lot of teams can admit to, but represent a historically stubborn opponent – we’ve only won four out of 19 Premier League games against Leicester.
Villa finally got the slice of luck they needed against Palace thanks to a howler from Hennessey, but fortune may not favour the underdogs this weekend.
If the defeat to Leicester earlier in the season wasn’t bad enough, Ranieri’s Monaco won both league matches against Garde’s Lyon in the 2013/14 season. That can’t be good.

“This is another tough match, perhaps tougher than Tottenham” – Ranieri on villa

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

It’s fair to say the match against Leicester earlier in the season was one of the biggest Villa disappointments in recent memory – and there’s lots of moments to choose from. At that ponts, Villa still carried with them a sense of excitment, fuelled by new signings and last season’s relegation escape.

Things have never really improved since then, but Tuesday’s win over Crystal Palace has changed things – a bit.

Before then Villa had looked resigned to relegation, but the mid-week victory was thanks to a refreshingly spirited performance from Garde’s men.

The rare awarding of three points hammered home that a few consecutive victories could lead us to an unlikely escape.

Red cards have been oddly prevalent in the last few meetings between Villa and Leicester (five in the last league encounters!) and Villa can’t afford to lose their cool in this important Midlands match-up.

We’ll need more luck against the high-flying Foxes but it wasn’t just fortune that won Villa the points in the week. A significantly changed lineup from Garde was a pleasing sign that the under-performers have been identified, so hopefully a similar team lines up on Saturday evening, and Wednesday’s performance levels are matched.

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Level on points with table-toppers Arsenal, Leicester’s great escape last season seems like an eternity ago.

Once they got a win towards the back end of last season, they kept the momentum going to climb to safety – could Villa do the same?

Our Midlands rivals have experience when it comes to avoiding the drop. While the media’s doom and gloom would have you believe it would take a miracle, West Brom were just a point better off at this stage in the 2004-05 season and eventually avoided relegation.

A second win for Garde would be highly uplifting, and while Leicester will be difficult opponents, there are signs that their form is starting to tail off.
Without tempting fate, Vardy has scored just one goal in seven matches since his incredible record-breaking run (although he has been injured for some of those games), while Leicester have won just one game in their last five (in all competitions).

The Villa Park faithful responded to a new, battling Villa performance on Tuesday and the mood was lifted.

If Villa can be as solid as they were against Crystal Palace, there’s no reason why we can’t get a good result on Saturday – we’re in no position to be writing games off.

UTV

Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid

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