Leicester City v Rotherham United: Match preview as Foxes look to extend winning run

As the winter window approaches, Leicester City face-off with Rotherham United for the second time. This time, the tie represents a crucial step for the Foxes. Here are the head-to-head stats and what to expect from this cornerstone fixture.
Birmingham City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship
Birmingham City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

"We don’t like counter-attacks, but sometimes we have to use it... We plan the game, but it depends how the opponent tries to defend us... if we would like to win the next three games with counter-attacks, for sure"

Enzo Maresca post-Birmingham City tie

Enzo Maresca's comments detail how the King Power side look at the game. 'MarescaBall' is not about counter-attacking plays, but often the Foxes will use their swift and direct players to overload slower defenders: we saw this multiple times across the season. Supporters should expect to see more of this as the campaign reaches its climax.

Leicester now host Rotherham in their first reverse-tie. In the last installment, Maresca triumphed 2-1 away against the now travellers. However, maybe this match will have a different outcome. To discover the possibilities, let us explore the head-to-head stats and what each outcome could mean for the hosts as the winter window swiftly approaches.

Leicester City v Rotherham: Head-to-Head

To say there exists a gulf between the two sides would be an understatement. Which is unfair on the lower-Championship side, but the fact remains that one sits at the summit, the other rock-bottom. First versus last. However, that does not paint the full picture. Using FB Ref stats, we can explore the creativity, defence, and form of each side.

1. Creativity

kiernan Dewsbury-Hall
Leicester City v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship / David Rogers/GettyImages

Observing non-penalty expected goals per 90 (NPxG90) we can get an idea of the quality and quantity of chances a team is creating. Leicester have 1.63 NPxG90, Rotherham 0.68 NPxG90. This means the Foxes are guaranteed to create at least one clear-cut goal-scoring chance which should lead to a goal, whereas the travellers might not even get one.

2. Defence

Ricardo Pereira - Portuguese Soccer Player - Born 1993
Liverpool v Leicester City - Carabao Cup Third Round / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Conversely, the King Power side have conceded 0.93 NPxG90. This means - on average - the former Premier League side will concede at least one clear-cut chance every match be that a set-piece or counter-attack. Meanwhile, our opponents concede 1.76 per match. The result is that they are guaranteed to give away a clear goal and possibly another.
Of course, with the January window soon to open, Maresca will be looking to tackle the defensive fragility of the home side in lieu of the less than expected stats.

3. Last Five

Enzo Maresca
Leicester City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship / Michael Regan/GettyImages

In their last five fixtures, the Foxes have won four and drawn one. Rotherham have lost four and drawn one. Both are on their own runs, Maresca will be looking to continue the winning run and press the advantage at the top of the table, while Rotherham will be hoping to stop their losing ways and gain some points.

The colours of this painting are most contrasting. Leicester City tend to score two goals per match, and Rotherham tend to concede that many. The Foxes create more, then concede less, and hold in their hands a whole deck of stacked cards: the odds are clearly against the travellers in this tie. However, the importance of the fixture for the Italian head coach changes the perception: it is an expected win, and a must win.

The Outcomes

A lot of what happens relies on the match happening between our rivals. Ipswich Town in second, and Leeds United in third. The two play each other on the same day as we face Rotherham. Let us explore those in further detail.

4. Ipswich Win

Kieran McKenna
Ipswich Town v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship / Stephen Pond/GettyImages

Should the surprise package win, they will not climb to the top of the table. Regardless of the result, the Foxes will be top of the table on goal difference or points. However, should the King Power side not achieve victory, a win for Ipswich puts them back in striking distance and upping the pressure on the league leaders.

5. Leeds Win

Leeds United v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship
Leeds United v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship / Athena Pictures/GettyImages

Should the Elland Road giants find themselves winning, them that does two things. Firstly, Ipswich will come no closer to Leicester. Secondly, it means Leeds has a chance to close the gap with both first and second. A win for the Foxes would maintain the gap to play-off promotions, a draw or loss bringing us closer to that.

6. The Rivals Draw

Enzo Maresca
Sheffield Wednesday v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship / Ben Roberts Photo/GettyImages

Should both teams draw, Leicester stay top and a draw is enough to maintain the current points advantage. A win would see Maresca's men force themselves into a nearly unsurmountable peak. A peak only a losing streak and injuries could topple.

I would expect Leicester City to score thrice, and the travellers may well get a goal. A 3-1 win for Leicester securing the points advantage on the rivals. The match is not being shown live on TV, so LCFC TV is your best bet to keep up to date with what is going on.