Leicester seek Di Matteo misery
When Steve Howard rifled home from the edge of the box to complete his hat-trick and subsequently removed Leicester from the relegation zone, things were looking slightly better for Leicester City.
This was March 15th 2008, and the Foxes had just crushed a strong West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, with Howard grabbing a second half hat-trick in a 4-1 victory. But as we all know, things didn't quite turn out to plan afterwards and Leicester were relegated. The Baggies went the other way.
But now we are back, and with a vengeance.
Former West Brom assistant manager Nigel Pearson has led the charge at Filbert Way, as the Foxes have taken their momentum from that successful League One campaign straight into the second tier. A series of impressive results have seen Pearson's men rise up the league table to fourth place, quashing pre-season expectations of mediocrity in the process.
For West Brom, their script since that particular game reveals another unfortunate Premier League season of failure, firmly confirming their status as a yo-yo club.
But make no bones about it, they will provide Leicester with quite possibly their biggest test of the season yet when they visit the Walkers Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Roberto Di Matteo inherited a strong side from the Tony Mowbray era, and has since crafted the final touches with a string of signings in the summer. In total no less than £4million was spent over five players, including the capture of former-Foxes target Simon Cox. The £175,000 signing of Youssouf Mulumbu has proved to be masterful, as the Congolese has ousted Robert Koren from the central midfield position.
West Brom have always been a Championship side renowned for their goal scoring abilties, and this has once again proved to be the case this season as the Baggies have hit 29 goals so far in the league. It was their defensive credentials that were ultimately to blame for last season's relegation, but the slate reads relatively clean so far this term as Di Matteo's side currently lie fourth in the goals conceded table.
But, lying above them are a certain Foxes side notoriously resilient at the back. Leicester have built their foundations on a strong backline, relying on the goal scoring expertise of Matty Fryatt and co to feed upon up the opportunities at the other end. The football may not have been special, but positive results have been flowing in on a frequent level.
Despite such a lack of goals for a team so high up in the table, it would be unfair to suggest that City have been a side content with defensive football. With Richie Wellens and Matt Oakley orchestrating the strings in midfield, Leicester have demonstrated their abilties as a footballing side worth cause for concern amongst opposition sides.
Roberto Di Matteo may have continued the legacy passed down by Tony Mowbray, but the qualities provided to him from day one were immediately obvious. Take nothing away from the job that the former Chelsea star has done for the Baggies however. With West Brom comes expectations, and Di Matteo has duly delievered so far.
Nigel Pearson's side, should, as they no doubt will, go into this game with great confidence. Last week's superb performance at Queens Park Rangers will have provided the players with great heart, and will not have gone unnoticed by those at the Hawthorns.
West Bromwich Albion may be one of the best sides in the division, but they will certainly not look forward to facing a Leicester side who have so far proved incredibly difficult to beat. A positive result tomorrow in any light would be useful for City, but there is every reason to believe that all three points can be ours come 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Let the match of the weekend commence...