Every game will matter for Leicester City as they look to reassert themselves as one of the top teams in the Premier League in the new season.
But there will be a handful of fixtures that may give a greater indication of the direction their campaign is heading. Here, we have picked out five matches that could shape their season, and interestingly, they are all at home.
Brentford (H) – August 6,
Of course, the curtain-raiser is of huge importance. And given the downturn in form last term, a positive result and performance to start the season could really lift the mood, as excitement levels are not expected to be as high as in previous years.
Against a side City beat home and away last year, it feels like a good fixture to kick off with. Brentford are a good outfit, with a fine manager, but may feel the bite of second-season syndrome.
City have also avoided opening against a newly-promoted side, which, as Arsenal found out at Brentford last season, can be really tough. Fulham, Bournemouth, and Nottingham Forest may be battling relegation at the end of the campaign, but at the start, they will still be thriving off the buzz of being back in the Premier League.
Manchester United (H) – August 30
After Brentford, it gets tough very quickly for City, with three of last season’s top six in their next four. The last of those is at home to Manchester United.
If you look at that difficult run with an optimistic frame of mind, it may be an opportunity to catch the elite cold. And with United under new management, Erik ten Hag may still be adapting to Premier League life, giving City the chance to take the game to them.
No matter what happens in the Arsenal and Chelsea away matches, if City can end their tough run with a victory over the Red Devils, it may feel like they’ve come through a difficult period well and should put them in a good place going into an easier (on paper) set of games.
Newcastle (H) – December 26
The Boxing Day fixture is always a big one as fans head to the ground full of festive cheer. But it’s even more important this year.
After more than a month off with the World Cup, City will resume their campaign on Boxing Day, and so it may feel like the opening day again. If the club’s campaign has not gone to plan by that point, it represents an opportunity to get off to a fresh start.
How clubs cope with the fatigue of their World Cup players and how they rotate their squad will be key to their success, and this is the game where City can set their stall out on that front. For it to be at home is a bonus.
Arsenal (H) – February 25
Rank City’s fixtures month by month from easiest to hardest, and February looks like it might be at the bottom. Having started with Aston Villa away, City then take on Spurs at home and Man United away, before concluding with Arsenal at the King Power Stadium.
Much like the first month, this is another period where the city will be looking to come through with their momentum intact. A run of defeats could see the mood plummet, but if they end February on a high by getting the better of the Gunners, they should feel in a good place to attack the final three months of the campaign.
West Ham (H) – May 28
If City are going to be challenging in Europe, the previous seasons have taught us that the last game will matter. When they were gunning for the top four in 2020 and in 2021, it came down to the last day, and City lost both, to Man United and Tottenham.
Given West Ham’s success in recent seasons under David Moyes, you would not bet against the Hammers being in the battle for the top six come the end of the campaign. If City are up there too, this could be a real humdinger of a fixture, with plenty riding on it. It could be the difference between making it to Europe or not.