The Football League website proudly displays its motto just below the league’s logo. It reads ‘Real football. Real fans.’ It’s true, but not really in the way the Football League want it to be. Each year fans of around 18 Championship clubs begin the campaign daydreaming of how their club might escape present realities by making it to the Premier League. By May, only three will have succeeded, and for the other 15, another season of real football beckons.
For Leicester this match will be their 2,422nd in the second tier. Barnsley meanwhile have played 2,943 games at this level. No club has played more matches in this division than these two, and present form suggests little optimism that either will be kicking off next August elsewhere.
For a while it looked as if Barnsley might be on to something, four straight wins before Christmas had put the Tykes as high as 8th, but one win and four defeats in matches since has seen the Yorkshiremen slip back down the table. Leicester won their first game in six league outings at Selhurt Park, but last week’s goalless draw at Nottingham Forest was the first time the Foxes had failed to score under Nigel Pearson since his return.
Barnsley have reasons to be cheerful. They will arrive at the King Power Stadium with two of the Championship’s top five scorers (Ricardo Vazquez Te – 10, Craig Davies – 9) and will also be boosted by the return of Manchester United loanee Daniel Drinkwater, who was absent for most of the Tykes recent poor form.
City, looking for their first back to back league wins of the season, will need to improve their form against sides beneath them in the Championship if any realistic playoff aspirations are to be retained. The Foxes have won just three of their dozen matches against sides currently below them in the table, including that disappointing 1-1 draw at Oakwell the last time these sides met.
The Tykes haven’t won in Leicester since 1994. But with both sides still off the boil three points are up for grabs if either side is willing to take them.