Bournemouth-Leicester City Preview
The city of Leicester has long been known for the rugby dominance of the Tigers, a two-time European Cup champion.
The local football club has a pedigree of success as well with seven league titles below the top flight, though Claudio Ranieri has Leicester City poised for a "miracle" halfway through the Premier League campaign.
His Foxes are in second place on goal difference and start the second half of their inspirational journey through the world's most expensive football league Saturday when they welcome newboys Bournemouth to the King Power Stadium.
No Premier League team has scored more goals than Leicester City's 37, with Jamie Vardy tied for the league lead with 15 and Riyad Mahrez fourth with 13. While their rugby counterpart Tigers are known for their battling ways, the Foxes have used an energetic, counterattacking style that has drawn praise within the league and worldwide.
Now Ranieri knows the challenge will be to see his charges maintain the frenzied attack.
"We spend a lot of energy in every match because we want to press high and play every time at the higher rhythm," he said. "It's not possible, I think but it's important to have the right mind when it will not be possible to play in this way we stay calm and keep possession of the ball.
The boss was pleased after the Foxes' scoreless home draw with Manchester City on Tuesday, marking their second straight game without a goal after scoring in their first 17.
Only Arsenal are above his side, with both on 39 points.
City, the champions two seasons ago? They sit third. Record English champions Manchester United? Sixth with Louis Van Gaal rumoured to be sacked. Reigning title-holders Chelsea? The Blues are the biggest flops in European football in 14th place on 20 points and keeping company with the Cherries and fellow promoted side Norwich City.
As for Leicester? Ranieri feels as if his side have been thrown to the lions in the Colosseum in his native Rome.
''This league is very crazy, nobody wants to win the league. It's very strange,'' Ranieri said. ''We're the basement and the other teams are a villa with a swimming pool. It's not easy for us but we want to fight with everybody.
''It's a miracle what we're doing."
One of eight sides to take points off the Foxes is Eddie Howe's Bournemouth, who have also gone goalless in two matches in this busy festive period. The Cherries were unbeaten in six before Monday's 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium to the Gunners.
"I think it's been pretty good so far," Howe said. "We've learned a lot of lessons, it's been crammed a lot into a short period of time but we've come out stronger and that's going to be the key now going into the second half."
Vardy's 86th-minute strike cancelled out Callum Wilson's opener in a 1-1 draw on the South Coast on Aug. 29. Wilson is sidelined long-term with a ruptured knee ligament, leaving Howe limited for scoring options.
Glenn Murray and Junior Stanislas each have three goals to rank second behind the five Wilson netted in the first seven matches.
Bournemouth finished with 10 men in their last visit to the King Power Stadium in a 2-1 defeat Oct. 26, 2013, in the Championship. Vardy scored the winner.