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Everton-Leicester City Preview
King Power Stadium may be the site of Marco Silva's last stand as the embattled Everton manager attempts to reverse his side's fortunes against rampaging Leicester City on Sunday.
Silva's season-plus tenure on Merseyside has failed to live up to expectations, more so this term as the Toffees (4-2-7) enter this contest 16th in the table on 14 points, four above the drop. The marquee summer signing, striker Moise Kean, has failed to adjust to Premier League life, and No. 1 Jordan Pickford has taken a step back from his fine form as both England keeper at the World Cup and the end of last term when Everton had a late surge to finish eighth.
Silva's fate had been growing precarious over the past month, but Everton's 2-0 loss to promoted Norwich City at home on Nov. 23 ratcheted up the rumour mill and the concern around Finch Farm and the blue side of Liverpool. Club owner Farhad Moshiri and the board are reportedly actively seeking a replacement, with the rumour mill spitting out the usual names - Mikael Arteta, newly available Mauricio Pochettino, and prodigal son David Moyes - but Silva wants the chance to turn the ship around and get the Toffees back on track.
"I believe, I believe I can," Silva told the Mirror when asked about getting Everton going again. "I believe in the work, I believe in our players and I believe in our fans as well. I am here to do my best every single day, to get the right result, and of course if (I) get the right results then you can repair things (with the fans)."
Everton have just seven points from their last nine matches after claiming the identical amount from the first four. A complete 90-minute performance has eluded the Toffees for most matches, having yielded two or more goals in seven of their last 11 contests and taking just four points from their first six road matches (1-1-4).
"Everton fans aren't going to want to listen to me talking and saying the right things - it's only actions on the pitch that can help us, not words," talisman Seamus Coleman told the club's official website after the loss to the Canaries. "We're not winning as many games as we'd like. The fans pay a lot of money to come and support us home and away, and they want to see results."
This match also starts a rough patch of schedule that includes a trip to Anfield for the first of their two derbies with Liverpool after this match and clashes with Manchester United and Arsenal bracketing a Carabao Cup quarterfinal rematch with these Foxes.
"We did well against these teams last season so we're more than capable of getting results and we can't have that mindset [that we cannot]," Coleman added. "We have to believe as players. We know it's going to be difficult, but we have to believe."
Leicester City (9-2-2) have won six on the bounce in all competitions and carry a 424-minute shutout streak in league play into this match. Kasper Schmeichel recorded his fourth consecutive clean sheet Nov. 23 as Leicester City ground out a 2-0 road victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
With each passing result, Leicester City's Champions League bona fides are being confirmed, yet there is still little talk about their title hopes. That is understandable given Liverpool are still eight points clear of the Midlands squad, and Brendan Rodgers would not object to flying under the radar a little bit longer.
"There are only 13 games gone but what is pleasing is the consistency," Rodgers told The Times. "Our supporters are now singing 'We are going to win the league' in the most competitive league in the world. Everyone associated us with counterattack but now there are different dimensions to this team, we can have the ball and create and be patient.
"They work very hard, they suffer every day in training and then take that confidence into the games."
Jamie Vardy set up Ayoze Perez's goal in the 64th minute before converting a penalty on his second attempt after the first one - scored by James Maddison after Vardy had his try stopped - was chalked off due to encroachment.
Another key reason for Leicester City's success has been their continuity. Rodgers will likely be able to trot out the same XI for the sixth straight match, and Maddison recognizes how that has helped the Foxes become the most in-form team in the Premier League.
"Momentum is such a key thing, that's why teams always win titles and they're right up there," the England international told LCFC.com. "They always go through spells where when the momentum is with them, they take advantage of that and they get wins in consecutive games like we're doing at the minute.
"If we want to be considered a top team, we have to keep doing that, but we know that we're not going to take our foot off the gas because every game is a tough game in this league, as I always say."
The road team won both matches last season, which took place before Rodgers arrived at Leicester. Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal in the 77th minute proved decisive in Everton's 2-1 victory at King Power, while Vardy bagged the winner in the Foxes' 1-0 triumph at Goodison Park.
Each team has won four of the last eight league matches after a stretch in which they split the points in nine of the previous 11 meetings.
Updated November 29, 2019