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First Team

Media View: Leicester City

Jamie Vardy collects the ball after scoring against Manchester United.

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth welcome Leicester City to Vitality Stadium for the return of Premier League football on Saturday.

Leicester have started the season well and, like the Cherries, sit in the top half of the table ahead of the game.

To find out more about Claude Puel’s side, we asked the Leicester Mercury’s chief football writer, Rob Tanner, to give us the lowdown on what to expect from the Foxes.

You can follow Rob on Twitter here.

afcb.co.uk: How would you sum up the start of Leicester’s season after winning two of their first four games?

RT: Things are much more positive than they were at the end of last season. When Claude Puel came in last season it was all great before Christmas as he got off to a fantastic start.

There was a lot of frustration in the second half of the campaign because they came so close in both cup competitions, reaching the quarter-finals - people felt like that was a missed opportunity.

There was a bit of discontent among a small section of the supporters, certainly on social media a lot of them were questioning Puel.

The chairman has decided to stick with Puel, he likes the youthful future that the manager has brought in - James Maddison, Ben Chilwell and Demarai Gray are examples of that and have all played for England at different levels.

Of the side that went down to Southampton and won at the end of August, only three of them were aged 26 or over. There’s still a section of the Leicester support that doubts what Puel is doing but overall people can see where he’s going with this team.

afcb.co.uk: You mentioned the England squad. There must be a lot of pride at Leicester for players like Harry Maguire for his involvement in the national side, as well as Ben Chilwell making his debut on Tuesday night.

RT: Absolutely. The game itself was a typical international friendly, but the fans were particularly excited about the fact that it was England at the King Power Stadium with Harry Maguire at the heart of the defence. He’s become a bit of a rock for the nation.

Chilwell came off the bench as well and it would have been great if Demarai Gray had played too as that would have been the first time three Leicester players had been on the pitch together for England since 1974 when Peter Shilton, Keith Weller and Frank Worthington played for the nation.

That shows the upward trajectory that the club has been on.

afcb.co.uk: Looking ahead to this weekend, Jamie Vardy is set to return from suspension. Is he the main danger man for Bournemouth to be wary of?

RT: I think the only concern for Puel with Vardy is that he hasn’t completed a 90-minute game of football yet this season. Due to his late return from the World Cup he was on the bench in the opening game against Manchester United.

He then got sent off against Wolves and has been suspended since then.

With his decision to stand down from international football he hasn’t played over the break but would certainly have started had he been available for England in their games over the last two weeks.

There’s no doubt that Vardy will start this game against Bournemouth but he’ll go into it without those minutes under his belt. He didn’t feature predominantly at the World Cup either, so he might be a bit rusty.

afcb.co.uk: Last time out these two sides played out a 1-1 draw. What are you expecting from AFC Bournemouth this weekend?

RT: This is the first time I’ve known Leicester play Bournemouth where both sides are very similar in their outlook and approach. Eddie Howe likes to play possession-based football and so does Puel. This isn’t the Leicester of old that played counter-attacking football, they like to get on the front foot and try to control games.

Before, certainly during the title-winning season, they were more than happy to let the opposition win the ball and then try to pinch it off them and hit them on the break.

It’s a bit different under Puel as you’ll see when they come down. I’d imagine it will be another very even game where one moment of genius or one mistake will decide it.

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