Leicester City

Leicester City

Premier League • England

Rodgers predicts Arsenal outcome amid key advantage; lauds unsung Leicester ‘inspiration’

Brendan Rodgers after a Leicester City win

Brendan Rodgers suggested Arsenal will take fourth spot this season – on one condition, and named who has been an “inspiration” in his Leicester side this year.

The Foxes have fallen back down to earth this season. Following two successive campaigns in which Leicester were entrenched in the battle for top four, Rodgers’ side have laboured throughout, culminating in their lowly 12th position at present.

However, the Europa Conference League could yet provide an avenue back into Europe next season. The Foxes defeated French outfit Rennes 2-0 in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash on Thursday night.

However, that doesn’t mean their league campaign will be punted. And speaking in his Friday press conference, Rodgers was asked about their opponents on Sunday – Arsenal.

The Gunners look odds-on to nab fourth spot this season. Arsenal currently occupy the position, and have games in hand over each of their chasing challengers.

Rodgers suggested Arsenal have benefitted from not being in Europe this season, and stated they’ll “finish where they want to” – providing they keep injuries at bay.

No Europe a big advantage – Rodgers

“Mikel has done an excellent job,” said Rodgers (via the Leicester Mercury).

“This year they haven’t been in Europe that has helped them settle and they’ve used the coaching time really well.

“They have some young players. They’ve used that time well.

Spurs defender on the move to Leicester or Wolves this summer

Spurs defender on the move to Leicester or Wolves this summer

Tottenham defender Cameron Carter-Vickers on loan at Celtic is a target for Leicester and Wolves this summer

“If they can keep their players fit and available they should be in a really strong position to finish where they want to.”

Rodgers then turned his attention to 32-year-old Marc Albrighton.

On the versatile winger, who scored the first goal against Rennes on Thursday night, Rodgers hailed the veteran as an inspiration to his fellow players.

“He’s been a huge inspiration for the players,” added Rodgers.

“Last night he made a great contribution to the game but it’s also about his concentration.

“I’ve worked closely with him for over three years and he’s a great guy for our squad.”

Barnes potential, Fofana return addressed

One player who has upped his game in recent months following a slow start to the season is forward Harvey Barnes.

His return to form has been a welcome boost for Rodgers, though the Leicester manager will continue to push Barnes to reach even greater heights.

“At the beginning of the season it was more about his fitness,” said Rodgers.

“Over the recent weeks you can see his importance to the team and the top class player he is. There’s still so much more to come from him, he’s a joy when in full flow.

“It’s great but he knows we’re still demanding more and he’s still demanding more from himself.”

Finally, Rodgers provided a positive update on the return from injury for Wesley Fofana.

The impressive young centre-half has been out of action since pre-season after suffering a broken leg from a reckless scissor tackle against Villarreal.

But seven months on, Rodgers now confirmed Fofana could make his long-awaited return in the second leg versus Rennes next week.

Brendan Rodgers, Wesley Fofana Leicester

“He’s come in [to training] and has been outstanding but has a lot of improvements to make.

“He has worked hard to get back and will hopefully he’ll be back very soon. He’s fine, he is getting physical work in and we’ll take it from there

“(Rennes) will be the first game he’s available for.”

PREDICTIONS: BRIT nominated act tips up big wins for Man Utd, Liverpool; struggle for Chelsea; more Everton woe