Leicester return to King Power for emotional farewell to Vichai
LEICESTER RETURN to action at the King Power Stadium on Saturday with football a mere afterthought as fans prepare to pay heartfelt tribute to the man who turned their dreams into astonishing reality.
Manager Claude Puel’s pre-match preparations for the game against Burnley were disrupted after he and a number of players, including Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel, travelled to Thailand to pay respects to the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Leicester owner Vichai was killed in a helicopter crash just outside the ground along with four other people after his club’s 1-1 draw at their King Power Stadium on October 27.
His death sent shockwaves through Leicester, where the charismatic Vichai had become a beloved figure in the club and the city, a feat rarely achieved by Premier League clubs’ billionaire owners.
It was under Vichai’s ownership that Leicester crafted one of the biggest fairytales in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title.
The team, currently 10th in the Premier League, returned to action last weekend, beating Cardiff 1-0 away but Saturday will give a chance to a capacity crowd to show their appreciation for the man who transformed their club.
A special “Tribute to Khun Vichai” video will be shown on big screens before kick-off, followed by a twominute silence. Fans will also receive commemorative scarves and souvenir matchday programmes in honour of the club’s late chairman.
Tribute T-shirts will be worn by the players during their warm-up and Khun Vichai’s name will be embroidered on the team’s match shirts during the first half.
The second-half shirts will bear the embroidered poppy symbol in honour of those who have given their lives in war, with the match selected as the club’s annual remembrance fixture, 100 years after the end of World War I.
As well as official events at the stadium, thousands of fans are expected to attend the “Vichai Walk” from the city centre to the stadium in honour of those killed in the crash.
Meanwhile, Premier League leaders Manchester City can ensure United’s recent revival is short-lived by beating their local rivals in Sunday’s late game.
City with a score to settle
Champions Manchester City lead the EPL by two points and have looked relentless in recent weeks but one of last season’s few blemishes saw them blow the chance to claim the title by beating United at the Etihad. City threw away a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2.
United have failed to finish above City in the league since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 and are already nine points behind their city neighbours.
Jose Mourinho’s men were buoyed by easily their best result of the season at Juventus on Wednesday to back up victories over Everton and Bournemouth but defensive concerns remain, with United keeping just one clean sheet in their last 10 matches.
Stopping a City side averaging four goals a game at the Etihad in the Premier League this season is a monumental task.
The Manchester derby is not the only game on Super Sunday to feature title challengers.
Five of the top seven are in action across four games on Sunday, offering the chance for three different teams to go top across the course of the day.
Liverpool are first up, looking to make amends for a terrible defeat at Red Star Belgrade that has threatened their chances of progressing to the Champions League last 16.
Fulham are therefore welcome opponents to Anfield having slipped to the bottom of the table with a run of five straight defeats.
Chelsea then have the chance to take top spot a couple of hours later when Everton are the visitors to Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal are also in action as they look to extend a 15-game unbeaten
The Leicester players reveal a thank-you banner to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after their win last weekend. There are sure to be more tears on Saturday.