For the first time in 7 years, Walsall Football Club will be playing in the FA Cup Fourth Round!.
This Saturday we welcome Midlands neighbours and Premier League side, Leicester City to The Poundland Bescot Stadium looking to cause an upset and in the process equal our best ever FA Cup performance by reaching the Fifth Round. The visitors won the Premier League in 2015/16, at odds of nearly 5000/1!
Boss Michael Flynn has previous with our visitors, as his then Newport County came out 2-1 winners against them in the Third Round in 2019.
The Foxes head to WS1 sitting 14th in the Premier League, but struggling for form. They last won a league game on November 12th, and granted the World Cup stopped play for a few weeks, but even since then their only victory was in the Third Round where they just about got past our divisional rivals, Gillingham, 1-0 at Priestfield.
Managed by Brendan Rodgers, who has been in charge since February 2019 and has led the club to an FA Cup win in 2020/21 where they beat Chelsea 1-0 thanks to a screamer from current midfielder Youri Tielemans. Rodgers is under pressure this season, and a bad result here might just be enough for the owners to push the button and remove him from his post, especially taking into account a recent East Midlands Derby loss to rivals Nottingham Forest.
The visitors don’t have a midweek fixture to contend with, so as per the Leicester Mercury newspaper, it is suggested that Rodgers will select a very strong starting lineup for this fixture. They have a couple of players that aren’t expected to be fit in time for the game in Wilfried Ndidi and Boubakary Soumare, whilst midfield maestro James Maddison made his return as a substitute in their last game against Brighton, so appears in line for a start in this one.
Leicester are predicted to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, and the predicted line up is:
Ward; Castagne, Amartey, Faes, Kristiansen; Mendy, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Maddison, Vardy, Barnes
A lot of those names probably won’t need much explanation to many who follow football, but Victor Kristiansen is a new defensive signing for The Foxes, who purchased him for the meagre sum of £17 million from Danish Superliga club, FC Copenhagen. Youri Tielemans has been much sought after by leading clubs in the past couple of seasons, and as aforementioned scored to win the visitors The FA Cup in 2020/21, whilst striker Jamie Vardy is now Leicester’s third highest goalscorer ever, and has a rags to riches story rising from the depths of non-league with Stocksbridge Park Steels to Premier League Winner with The Foxes, alongside gaining 26 England caps, scoring 7 goals for his country.
It does appear that there will be a stronger team on show here than they previously started with in the last round at Gillingham, so that will be good for many attending the game to see.
Moving onto The Saddlers now and as has been already touched upon, this will be our first venture this far in the competition for 7 years. The previous 3 rounds saw us victorious against Wycombe Wanderers (A) (2-0), Carlisle United (H) (2-1), and Stockport County (A) (2-1).
Heading into the game, Michael Flynn has been dealt a blow as defensive giant Manny Monthé WILL miss this game due to a suspension carried over from his sending off for two yellow cards against Tranmere Rovers, which would have already been served but for two postponements due to the inclement weather conditions. Hopefully MM will be able to keep his chin up, and will have something even better to celebrate with us at the end of the season. What this does do however, is open up a space for Oisin McEntee or Joe Low to come into the back three and stake their claim for a place in the starting XI moving forward. Who do you think comes in? For me, McEntee gets the shirt.
There is no new injury news heading into the fixture, and at the time of writing no new incomings to the side, with top scorer Danny Johnson still stuck back at Mansfield Town. You never know, he might be back in time for this fixture if the clubs can agree on a fee, or we might never see him in our shirt again, but we can’t dwell on maybe’s. On the basis that he isn’t here, and Monthé is definitely unavailable, what team do we start with? Will Tom Knowles start at wing-back, or does Robbie Willmott get a chance to start, with Knowles perhaps getting a start up top?
The team are to be backed by a SOLD-OUT crowd, which will be a rare-sight for many people over the past few years, and there is an opportunity for someone to make themselves a Saddlers hero. If you can’t make the game for whatever reason, it is being streamed on the BBC Red Button Service from 12:20pm, where you can watch live from wherever you are accessing it.
Traffic is going to be a nightmare, so get there as early as you can and enjoy the building atmosphere and the game. Hopefully it is going to be a momentous day.
There are 65 league positions between the teams, and in theory Leicester City should walk this, but theory isn’t reality, and given the great form we’ve been in and the poor form they turn up in, anything is possible. 45 years ago, to the day, Walsall were victorious in The FA Cup against Leiceser City - is history about to repeat itself?
COME ON WALSALL!
- Walsall Win
- Draw (Replay)
- Leicester City Win