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How Do You Beat Leicester City?

Sunderland need three points, and they need them soon - unfortunately for us, we're faced with having to take on the best side in England this coming weekend. It's easier said than done, but just how do you take down a team steamrolling towards a league title?

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Mahrez And Vardy

I'll state the obvious.

Look, I'm not an idiot, nor are the people reading this, but lets be honest - if you can somehow stop Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy from scoring goals, you give yourself as good a chance as any of taking something from the game.

A quick look at the Leicester goalscorers this season tells you everything you need to know - if Mahrez and Vardy haven't got their shooting boots on, Leicester tend to not win games and/or score goals. The combined amount of assists and goals from the two men is staggering, and finding a way to prevent them from causing havoc is a problem that pretty much every team in the Premier League has failed to overcome this season.

The big issue with both of those players is that they're so unpredictable in their style, meaning trying to second guess whatever they are going to do is just not viable. Vardy can score goals from just about anything - just take a look at his goal for England against Germany as a prime example - whilst Mahrez is an unbelievably capable crosser of the ball and his fearless style means he often scores ridiculous goals.

Vardy's strength is in his pace and high-pressing - he'll look to find space either side of the central defenders, particularly whenever Van Aanholt and Yedlin go wandering forward as they tend to do. On Saturday we were fairly lucky that West Brom didn't look to catch us up the pitch too often as our full backs played more as wingers, but against Leicester I'm not so sure we can afford to let them have as much freedom.

Luckily, our full backs are very quick and you'd like to think that if they can stay disciplined they'll successfully prevent Vardy from causing too much trouble.

The last two games that Leicester have won away from home have been 1-0 wins courtesy of Riyad Mahrez goals. Our greatest weapon in this battle should be Lee Cattermole - he has to play deeper than he did at the weekend. Have him man mark Mahrez and contain him - it's the most useful facet to Cattermole's game.

If - and it's a big IF - we can somehow stay disciplined in our defending of those two players, we'll be fine.

Kante v Kirchhoff

Arguably, N'Golo Kante and Jan Kirchhoff are the two best-performing central midfielders in the Premier League right now and the battle between the two should be interesting to say the least. Though incredibly different in terms of stature and size, they have very similar playing styles and seeing which of the two comes out on top is what I'm most looking forward to about the game.

Kante is famed for his ability to cover ridiculous amounts of ground at a pace not seen since Claude Makelele last laced up a pair of boots, and the hope is that he's due an off day - the man is a freak.

Luckily for us, Jan Kirchhoff has ran just about every game he's played in from midfield since signing from Bayern Munich in January and we've seen nothing that suggests his form is set to drop off. If anything, Kirchhoff is improving game on game and his main task on Sunday is to win the majority of the second balls that Kante usually seems to collect with ease.

If either of the two can outshine the other I feel their team will go on to win the game, as close as the eventual result might be. This is the key battle.

Get The Ball To Jermain Defoe's Feet

On Saturday against West Brom we saw the good and bad of how to bring Jermain Defoe into a game in equal measures.

For every aimless punt up field to Defoe's head by Vito Mannone, we had a fine ball into feet with his back to goal - and that is exactly what is needed on Sunday against Leicester.

As organised and resilient as Wes Morgan and Robert Huth are, they aren't going to enjoy dealing with Jermain Defoe twisting and turning with the ball at his feet. Slow defenders tend to struggle massively whenever Defoe is brought into the game and, as we saw on Saturday, he's got this un-coachable ability to just wriggle away and sneak a shot towards goal. Sadly for us the West Brom keeper was fantastic and Defoe didn't manage to score but I feel we crossed a real barrier in that second half. If you want to get Jermain scoring goals, give him the opportunity with the ball at his feet.

To Conclude...

Leicester have only lost away from home twice in the league this season, in games against Arsenal and Liverpool where they managed to outplay them - fair enough, really. In terms of pure footballing ability, Liverpool and Arsenal probably have the two strongest squads in the league.

Sadly, we don't have the strength in depth in order to outplay teams, but nor do Leicester. What they do to win games is utilise the quality they do have whilst complimenting it with efficiency and that self-taught ability to work harder than their opposition, and as a result they are flying at the top of the league.

Work hard, take their best players out of the game frustrate and, above all else, take your chances.

Would you take a point now, or has this game become a must win? Vote in the poll below and leave your comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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