James Maddison knows Leicester City’s meeting with Everton could be a defining moment in the battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League, describing the six-pointer as “massive”.
Leicester and Everton are both in the relegation zone ahead of Monday’s clash at the King Power Stadium, separated by just one point as they desperately scrap for survival.
The Foxes have experienced something of an upturn since Dean Smith took charge, beating Wolves and rescuing a 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Leeds United in their last two games.
With just five matches remaining for the Foxes to save their season, Maddison hopes Smith’s impact will prove decisive.
“It’s definitely given us a lift,” Maddison said of Smith’s arrival. “When you have a new manager, it’s a new voice, new messages and so everyone’s on it.
“There has been a real uplift in confidence and belief and hopefully that will leave us in good stead so we can produce another positive performance and result against Everton.
“We’re all fighting and battling for Premier League safety. We all know their manager and what type of characteristics he has, he’ll be looking for a reaction and getting them going.
“Make no mistake about it, this is a massive game – there’s no point in dressing it up as anything else.”
Everton are growing desperate following Thursday’s dismal 4-1 defeat against Newcastle United, with the Toffees still to face Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City in a difficult run-in.
Though the Toffees are winless in six games, Sean Dyche still believes in their survival prospects – though he accepts they need to improve quickly.
“I think we can do it,” he said. “It is about us.
“We have to correct the mistakes we have made in the last few weeks. We can all talk the talk, but it is about walking the walk.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Leicester City – Jamie Vardy
Vardy ended his 20-game Premier League goal drought last time out, netting a crucial equaliser against Leicester’s fellow relegation candidates Leeds.
Having scored six goals in his first nine league games against Everton, Vardy has failed to net in his last four against them. If he can end that run on Monday, it could prove crucial in their battle to survive.
Everton – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Everton are winless in their last 12 Premier League away games (D5 L7), failing to score on nine separate occasions during that run.
Having endured another injury-hit campaign, Calvert-Lewin last found the net in a Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace in October. Dyche’s men need him to find form in the coming weeks.
MATCH PREDICTION – LEICESTER CITY WIN
Having won on their last two Premier League trips to Leicester, Everton are looking to post three successive away wins against the Foxes for the first time in their history.
However, a run of 12 Premier League away games without a win has done nothing to alleviate the Toffees’ relegation fears. Since beating Brighton in August 2021, they have won just two of their 33 away league matches (D10 L21).
Leicester boss Smith, meanwhile, has won four and lost none of his six previous Premier League meetings with Everton, winning three of his four at home against the Toffees.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Leicester City – 52.1 per cent
Everton – 21.4 per cent
Draw – 26.5 per cent
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