If you had asked probably anybody five years ago who would be the team to crack into the Premier League's top 5, outside of the usual suspects of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, you probably would have heard things like "Tottenham" or "Everton" or "Newcastle Uni....hahahahahaha, sorry, I can't finish that with a straight face. But, for real, Tottenham." Probably no one would have said "Leicester City".
This may be because the Foxes were just in their second year in the Championship, after being promoted from League One. They finished tenth in the second tier that year. And, here we are, in November and Leicester City sits in third, a point off of leaders Manchester City. Given that Newcastle United have yet to really figure out this whole football thing, it is quite possible that Leicester finds them in at least second (Man City hosts Liverpool, while second place Arsenal is at West Brom).
So, how have Leicester City reached the literal dizzying heights of the Premier League (as the sarcastic dizzying heights Newcastle twitter throws out when climbing out of the relegation zone)? They score. A lot. The Foxes have 25 goals, second most in the league. Jamie Vardy is leading the way, with 12 goals. Riyad Mahrez has chipped in seven of his own. Those 19 combined goals is more than 13 of the teams in the league (including, brace yourselves, Newcastle). Leicester have scored in every match so far this season, even netting two in their lone loss (a 5-2 defeat to Arsenal).
However, the Foxes have needed to score in bunches because they aren't sporting the tightest of defenses. They've given up 20 goals on the season. That sort of defense belongs to teams like Norwich City and (this is weird to type) Chelsea. So, on the one hand, a better defensive record than Chelsea, on the other hand, the Blues are 17th. While it is early, the Foxes have a GD of +5, which is usually not the mark of a Champions League side. That goal differential would see the Foxes nearer to mid-table.
Leicester City may very well regress as the season goes along. Their leaky defense (only one clean sheet, that coming against Crystal Palace) might possibly catch up with them. But for now, they have played exciting football, have proven more apt at putting the ball in the net than they really should, and whose to say this doesn't turn into something. Newcastle knows all too well that a good run of form and some lucky bounces can end up in a European spot.
In the meantime, Newcastle has been a strange club to try to get a read on. They played well at times without getting results. Then, last week, they were bossed around by Bournemouth but got the three points. The Toon Army can take solace in the fact that this defense has actually produced back to back clean sheets. However, the offense has continued to sputter, scoring just once since the six goal outburst against Norwich.
Both teams come into the match with suspect defenses. It is clear that Newcastle will have to find offense if they want to grab all three points. The Foxes have shown no signs of stopping on the attack. And while that attacking style has left them vulnerable, Newcastle has not proven that they can take advantage of those opportunities.