Our footy scribe previews the EPL matchup between Leicester City and Manchester City.
Could this be a case of outgoing champions meeting incoming champions? While, it’s certainly the case that the Foxes are not going to be winning the title this year. They have been thoroughly underwhelming, despite all the hoopla surrounding their European adventures.
Despite losing N'Golo Kanté, I thought they did well in the market and they have grossly underperformed this season. Claudio Ranieri has returned to his ‘tinkerman’ tactics and it has cost them. Manchester City are a bit of an enigma. They can beat Barcelona - convincingly - and then fail to beat Celtic over two legs. A Celtic side that was decimated 7-0 by Barcelona. Pep Guardiola's side have some suspension issues to deal with as they attempt to keep pace with the title frontrunners.
English Premier League | Saturday 10 December | King Power Stadium | 19:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Leicester 7/2 | Draw 28/10 | Manchester City 15/20
Leicester fielded what resembled a youth team in their game against Porto, something that must have thrilled fans of FC Copenhagen. Regardless, the side are coming off a humiliating 5-0 defeat and now have to come home to harsh domestic realities.
Like a Viking coming back from a hugely successful raid, only to find that your lands have been stolen and your people massacred. Ok, that got a bit dramatic, but you see where I’m going here. And the weirdest thing is, they have hardly had any injuries to navigate. Only Kasper Schmeichel remains absent.
Danny Drinkwater went off with a leg injury midweek, but Ranieri played the injury down. Ahmed Musa and Shinji Okazaki were ineffectual on Wednesday night and I suspect Islam Slimani and Jamie Vardy will lead the line this week.
It makes sense since Man City showed vulnerability to pace against Chelsea. Also, Nicolas Otamendi may not quite fancy the pure physicality of Slimani. I’m concerned about their midfield. Drinkwater looks a shadow of the player he was last season while Daniel Amartey has battled to replicate the vivacity of Kante.
Man City will have to make do without both Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho. They would probably be the two most critical components of Guardiola’s side. Aguero gives you guaranteed goals while Fernandinho’s unbridled athleticism allows him to flaunt that 4-1-4-1 system so liberally.
I suspect that he will turn to midweek scorer Kelechi Iheanacho to play up front, while Fernando should prove as close to a like to like swap for Fernandinho as he has: certainly it is on a phonetic level. I don’t think that he can trust Yaya Toure to play that role while he may want Ilkay Gundogan to press slightly more forward.
Raheem Sterling is set to return from a knee injury but will likely have to settle for a place on the bench. Kevin De Bruyne was exceptional last weekend and with David Silva will be the catalyst for this side. If I were Guardiola I would opt for Jesus Navas down the right-hand side. He is super quick and has just recently begun to show that he can produce the final ball.
The absence of Aguero could be crucial. The Foxes will clearly play on the counter and will feel more comfortable committing players forward without the stealthy Argentine in the side. Furthermore, the absence of Fernandinho could prove vital as he is the guy who would usually sees to those pesky breakaways.
Verdict: Leicester Win/Draw Double Chance (1/1)
I know that City will still be huge favourites, especially given Leicester’s recent form, but the two absent players are big losses to assimilate for the Citizens.
Ranieri will also have read the riot act to his side and they will be keen to redirect all their energy on making sure they avoid an embarrassing relegation fight. Back the Foxes on the Win/Draw Double Chance at even money.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets