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Leicester City-Swansea City Preview
Leicester City will be without a permanent manager when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to play Swansea City on Saturday.
Craig Shakespeare waited patiently for the top job at Leicester (1-3-4), spending the best part of 10 years at the club as an assistant to both Nigel Pearson and Claudio Ranieri. But all that glisters is not gold, as Shakespeare found out to his cost this week when Leicester's owners sacked him just eight games after being given the job on a permanent basis.
"Our early promise under Craig's (caretaker) management has not been consistently evident in the months since," a club statement read. "And the board feels that, regrettably, a change is necessary to keep the club moving forward - consistent with the long-term expectations of our supporters, board and owners."
The decision by the board raised yet more eyebrows, with the negative reaction to Ranieri's dismissal still relatively fresh in the memory, and Leicester - who find themselves at the top of the relegation zone at this early stage of the campaign - are in danger of sullying the memory of their shock title triumph in 2016.
Leicester's lone victory came over new boys Brighton & Hove Albion on the second matchday, but they have drawn two straight and three of the last four within the league.
No permanent successor to Shakespeare has yet been named, but former Oxford United manager Michael Appleton has taken over on a caretaker basis. And the 41-year-old has revealed on Thursday that the players are still shocked by the suddenness of Shakespeare's sacking.
"Having spoken to the players today, they are obviously a bit raw as you can imagine," Appleton said. "Craig is a little bit raw as well, but I'm sure he'll start reflecting and looking forward positively."
Swansea (2-2-4) know that the managerial upheaval may well have an impact on their visitors' intensity. The Swans beat Leicester last season in what turned out to be Ranieri's last Premier League match in charge, and boss Paul Clement is expecting a similarly strange atmosphere this time around.
"We expected a very tough opponent then; we prepared well and we managed to get a victory," Clement said. "This week will be just the same. What will the reaction of their players be? I don't know, but we have to be ready for a potential backlash or an upturn in form.
"I know Michael Appleton. He has a lot of experience as a player and a manager and he is certainly a safe pair of hands for this game and however many more going forward."
Swansea snapped an 0-1-3 league stretch with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town last weekend.
Both teams go into the game with injury issues. Leicester are unlikely to be able to call upon the services of Robert Huth and Matty James, with the pair struggling with foot and ankle injuries respectively. And Swansea are missing striker Wilfried Bony and full-back Kyle Bartley, with Bayern Munich loanee Renato Sanches a doubt with a thigh strain.
Swansea have kept clean sheets in three of their last four meetings with Leicester at the Liberty Stadium. The exception came in the Foxes' title-winning season when a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick earned the visitors are 3-0 win.
Updated October 19, 2017