We face a a revived and in-form Leicester City this weekend after their players disgustingly forced out Claudio Ranieri a few weeks ago – the very man who made the players and the club relevant.
Whatever you think of the way Leicester forced out the club’s only worthwhile hero, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re playing them at a time when their tails are up and arguably in the same form as they were when they won the league last year.
We’re without a win in four games now, which is disappointing given that we appeared to have put our early season form behind us with just three defeats in the 11 games leading up to our 2-2 home draw with West Brom.
Having lost to Bournemouth last weekend – and subsequently missing out on the chance to strengthen our position in the top 10, slipping to 11th instead – beating Leicester on Saturday is even more crucial than perhaps it should’ve been.
This season a lot has been said about the standard of refereeing in the Premier League and we all know how much we’ve been on the wrong end of incompetent performances from the officials.
And if the stats are anything to go by this weekend, we could be in for yet another long afternoon where the referee clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing.
That’s because the referee will be Roger East who, after failing to award a clear penalty for Stoke v Bournemouth in November, was demoted down the divisions.
He has only refereed six Premier League games this season as a result, with former referee’s chief Keith Hackett writing in the The Telegraph in November that he had doubts over East’s ability to officiate at the top level of English football.
Our friends at FootballFanCast.com took a look at East’s stats this week and revealed that he tends to prefer the away side in the Premier League, with 50% of his six games ended in an away win, competed to just 33% of home teams coming out on top…
But it’s his penalty stats that really have me worried. He averages 0.67 penalties a game and tends to point to the spot for the away side more than he does the hosts, which means it won’t really matter if Mark Noble is out injured because he probably won’t be required to take one anyway.
Of course, stats don’t always offer a true reflection on reality, but they are a good indicator of form.
Let’s hope East’s time out of the Premier League has allowed him to recover his composure and he’ll have a good game in the middle on Saturday. Otherwise, it doesn’t make good reading for us.