Sam Allardyce must unleash Semi Ajayi against Leicester City
Sam Allardyce must start Semi Ajayi against Leicester if West Brom are to continue their winning run.
This is a very tough game on paper but Leicester played out a hard-fought game against Southampton on Sunday, so we have the upper hand in regard to fitness.
Kyle Bartley hobbled off against Southampton and though he could be fit, Big Sam should still start Ajayi, either in his place or as part of a back five.
Ajayi impressed against Chelsea and was harshly dropped against the Saints, but Allardyce must unleash the 27-year-old against Leicester.
Kelechi Iheanacho is on top form with 12 goals and 11 games, while the pace of Jamie Vardy threatens to stretch our backline and could cause us problems.
But in Ajayi we have the perfect antidote.
This is a man who once gave Olympic sprinter Adam Gemili “battles” in 100m and 200m races, while Slaven Bilic has said one of Ajayi’s biggest assets is the fact he is “very pacy” [The Athletic].
He should be able to keep a close eye on Vardy while Dara O’Shea attempts to mark Iheanacho out of the game – just as he did against Danny Ings last week.
Bartley has impressed since Big Sam came in but Ajayi has a brilliant opportunity to win back his regular place in the team.
He uses his pace very effectively, and has been dribbled past just 0.5 times per game this season – Bartley is the only defender with a better record [0.3], per WhoScored.
The Nigeria international has struggled at times in the Premier League but there is a reason teammate Grady Diangana once called him “sensational” [Football League World].
He has good composure and in his last start he brought the ball out from the back really well, finding Matheus Pereira and Mbaye Diagne in good attacking positions against Chelsea.
Ajayi can help to put us on the front foot and allow us to play a high line without worrying about Vardy running in behind.
That will allow Albion to pile pressure on Leicester and that could be key to winning three points.
In other West Brom news, one Leciester Super Fan has been rather disparaging about the Baggies in the build-up to our clash.