Things you may have forgotten during the World Cup break: Newcastle United are a real force now.
The Magpies return in third place, having won each of their last five, accumulating 22 points from the last 24 available.
In fact, Eddie Howe’s team have lost just once so far, this coming in August at Anfield, the winner scored in the 96th minute.
Last time out, Joe Willock’s curler was enough to see the Toon Army to a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at a raucous St James’ Park.
So, while there’s obviously still a long way to go, European football, possibly of the Champions League variety, could soon be heading to Tyneside.
Leicester City meantime were the best of the rest in recent seasons, finishing fifth in both 2020 and 2021.
However, Brendan Rodgers’ team made a horrendous start to this campaign, yielding just a solitary point from their first seven matches.
Since then though, the Foxes have surged up to 13th, winning four of their last five.
After seven games, Leicester had conceded a staggering 22 goals, the most of any top-flight side at that stage since West Ham in the ‘60s.
However, since the start of October, they’ve conceded just three goals in eight outings, keeping a clean sheet in all five of their victories.
Both clubs won’t be coming into this Boxing Day clash cold, after being involved in the Carabao Cup last Tuesday.
Leicester cruised to a 3-0 victory over Milton Keynes; Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Pérez and Jamie Vardy on target at Stadium MK.
Concurrently, Newcastle were edging past Bournemouth at home, needing a second half own goal to get through.
Coincidentally enough, the Foxes and the Magpies then drew each-other in the quarter-finals, so will meet in the North East in just 15 days time.
Before then, will Newcastle’s remarkable Premier League form continue at the King Power?
Leicester City team news
Brendan Rodgers named a strong side to take on MK last mid-week, so may not make too many changes here.
James Maddison was not involved in that game, following his World Cup trip, but could be straight back in the XI here.
It’ll be interesting to see who Rodgers goes with up front.
Jamie Vardy started and scored last Tuesday, but it was Patson Daka who led the line in wins over Everton and West Ham before the break.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall wasn’t in the squad for the League Cup tie, but is expected to be fit for this one.
James Justin, Jonny Evans, Ricardo Pereira, Çağlar Söyüncü and Ryan Bertrand are all out injured.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Ward; Castagne, Amartey, Faes, Thomas; Ndidi, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Maddison, Barnes, Daka.
Newcastle United team news
Eddie Howe too isn’t likely to tinker too much, after putting out, pretty much, his strongest side against Bournemouth.
Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schär, Bruno Guimarães and Callum Wilson were all straight back in after returning from the World Cup.
Allan Saint-Maximin came on for the final half an hour last Tuesday, and could remain amongst the substitutes.
Up front, Alexander Isak hasn’t featured since 17 September and his return date is still unknown.
One man who will be a threat is Miguel Almirón; he’s scored eight Premier League goals this season, despite only managing nine goals in his previous 110 appearances in the competition.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Schär, Botman, Burn; S Longstaff, Guimarães, Willock; Almirón, Joelinton, Wilson.