Premier League 17/18: Manchester City vs Leicester City – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Foxes travel to Manchester for a clash of City’s in which both sides will be without Mahrez .
17:30 GMT, Saturday 10th February, Etihad Stadium (Manchester, England), BT Sport
Pep Guardiola continues to see his team sit at the top of the table with a healthy lead despite being held to another draw last weekend.
Having failed to win any of their last three league games on the road, there’s been no such problems at home.
With goals scored in every game and a winning sequence of 12 consecutive victories, City will be looking to make it unlucky for Leicester on Saturday evening.
Despite Claude Puel breathing new life into the Foxes this season, they too have been having problems away from home and have only collected one point from their last four league games on the road.
Having already lost twice to the Sky Blues this season, albeit once through a penalty shoot-out following a drawn match in the Carabao Cup, Puel will know the scale of the task facing him this weekend.
The fact he will have to do so without his star player makes this fixture seem all the more daunting.
Last Time Out
Burnley 1-1 Manchester City (Premier League)
City were left frustrated as the Clarets snatched a late goal to hold Guardiola’s side to a draw at Turf Moor.
Having had 71% of possession and 20 shots at the Burnley goal, seven of which were on target, a lack of clinical finishing was what cost the Citizens two points ultimately.
The City goal itself came through the much-maligned figure of Danilo from a short corner. Having been derided by many for a series of disappointing performances, the Brazilian left-back had a much better afternoon with some neat passing to set up play.
It was Raheem Sterling who bore the brunt of the headlines for two big misses, one an open goal from close range. However, he was far from the only guilty party.
While City played calmly and neatly at the back of the pitch to void Burnley’s incessant pressing, the forwards generally lacked in decision-making and the sharpness of pass which has become synonymous with their play.
The result of this was a dominant display which lacked the goals City arguably deserved but yet another game without defeat for Guardiola’s men.
Leicester City 1-1 Swansea City (Premier League)
The Foxes were unable to find a killer blow to give them a deserved win after dominating the Swans for large periods of the game.
Much of the pre-match talk focused on the whereabouts of Riyad Mahrez. However, Leicester proved more than capable of creating chances in his absence.
Fousseni Diabaté continues to impress since his arrival last month while Kelechi Iheanacho too has maintained his good form of late following his eye-catching turns in the FA Cup.
Both had good chances to score in the first half but for a fine save and a goal-line clearance respectively preventing them.
The heart and soul of the team was once again Wilfred Ndidi. The diminutive midfielder not only controlled the centre of the pitch, he also finished a fine goal only for it to be ruled off-side on the half-hour mark.
Leicester’s inability to put the match beyond Swansea’s reach was punished just after the break when a corner was badly defended to leave Federico Fernandez with a simple header to equalise.
A wave of late pressure failed to snap the Swans resistance and Puel was left to reflect on two points dropped against a dogged Swansea side.
Manchester City Lineup
Guardiola will still be without Benjamin Mendy (knee), Phil Foden (ankle), Fabian Delph (knee), Gabriel Jesus (knee) and Leroy Sané (ankle) although John Stones is expected to be ready for selection once more.
This will leave Guardiola a huge dilemma in who to select in central defence with Aymeric Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Nicolás Otamendi also available.
Leicester City Lineup
Captain Wes Morgan (hamstring) is still not fit to return for Leicester while Riyad Mahrez remains missing for a third consecutive match due to missing the bus.
While Danny Simpson returned to the squad against Swansea, Daniel Amartey could be reinstated to provide more solidity after impressing at right-back in recent weeks while Ben Chilwell may be used on the right of midfield to further bolster the Foxes defensive options.
Key Battle: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) vs Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
After watching on from the bench last weekend, City’s new defensive signing should again make his way back into the team to face Leicester.
The young Frenchman impressed in his debut against West Brom and, although Guardiola appears to be wanting to ease him into the action, another home game should see Laporte starting this weekend.
Having looked strong in the tackle against the Baggies with a near-perfect (95%) passing accuracy, Laporte looks set to become a firm favourite of the fans at the Etihad.
Jamie Vardy’s record against the top-sides has been well documented of late but his record against City is not as strong as it could be. With four goals from nine appearances against the Citizens, only Chelsea (3 goals, 8 appearances) have a better record of the teams in the top-six.
Having scored in each of his previous three League fixtures, Vardy is currently in form and he will get another chance this weekend to prove himself against the league leaders.
Not right for Sterling
Sterling may have scored 14 goals from 24 league appearances this season, however, his reputation for missing too many chances still haunts him.
There has been a vast improvement in his effectiveness this season, underlined by his ten assists. This has also seen him directly involved in more league goals than any City player this season.
With Leroy Sané missing through injury, City currently lack the balance and width which the German brings to the team. This also seems to be influencing Sterling’s contribution to the team.
Guardiola’s preferred option recently has been to switch Sterling to the left wing and use Bernardo Silva on the right. Despite claiming to prefer playing on the left in recent interviews, Sterling often under-performs on this side and often seems to lose focus in a position he feels comfortable in.
Broken dreams (part 2)
After spending the end of August away from his Algerian teammates in search of an elusive move away from Leicester, Riyad Mahrez has once more had his dreams dashed by the Foxes.
With no club willing to meet Leicester’s valuation for the 2016 PFA players’ player of the year, not even a club of Manchester City’s financial might, Mahrez remains in the East Midlands.
Having signed a new contract extension in 2016, Mahrez has now decided to put his professionalism behind him and refuse to train with the club.
This is not the only time a player has reacted in such a way, Philippe Coutinho one recent example which springs to mind, but the club have stuck to their belief of refusing to lose one of their stars to a rival for a price below market value.
For Mahrez, he may well finally get his wish after the World Cup this summer, however, his actions are only serving to taint his reputation amongst Leicester fans in the short-term.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Leicester City
City’s recent stumbles have all come on the road and they still look an indomitable force on their own patch.
Leicester have improved significantly since Puel’s appointment at the club in October. However, their biggest strength also remains with games played at home.
Leicester can be expected to produce another tight, defensive display as they did in both previous matches against City this season but the sky blue City are the more likely to snatch all three points with their extra cutting edge in attack.