After Manchester City defeated Bayern Munich 3-0 last week to get to the Champions League semifinal, speculation about a possible treble-winning season picked up steam. With a game in hand over Premier League (PL) leaders Arsenal and six points to make up after their ninth straight victory, the title chase is still in play.
Leicester City should be welcomed, since Pep Guardiola’s team has won ten of the last twelve Premier League head-to-head games (L2). Not to mention the Cityzens’ fantastic Premier League success, which has seen them win seven of their last eight games since suffering a 1-0 loss to Spurs in February. During this current hot streak, they have also scored first on seven occasions.
Leicester, the 2015 Premier League champions, are currently in danger of being relegated after Brendan Rodgers was fired and replaced by interim manager Dean Smith, who has been hired through the rest of the season. After accumulating just one of the final 24 possible points (D1, L7), the Foxes began this round two points outside of safety, but a defiant Smith remarked upon his arrival that “if I thought it was insurmountable then I wouldn’t have come.”
Given their predicament, the Foxes enter this match as blatant underdogs, thus this is unquestionably a free hit for them. If Jamie Vardy plays, it could be a historic day for the club as he would become the first player to make 300 Premier League appearances. This could give the fans something to talk about other than the fact that they had lost four of their previous eight competitive away games without a win (W2, D1, L5).
Erling Haaland of City, who Guardiola dubbed “a machine like Cristiano Ronaldo” last weekend, broke the record for the most competitive goals scored by a Premier League player in a season (G45) and is currently four goals short of the all-time mark for goals scored in a season. Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho, a former City player who helped contribute to three goals before halftime in the Foxes’ lone PL away victory since last November, will try to surpass him.
Phil Foden, a Man City attacker, is still out as he recovers from appendicitis surgery, but De Bruyne is available after Guardiola allayed concerns that he might have hurt himself against Bayern.
Guardiola will probably change up his starting lineup in preparation for the Champions League match in Germany the following week. Aymeric Laporte, Kyle Walker, and Rico Lewis are all vying to start in defense.
Riyad Mahrez will try to replace Bernardo Silva on the right flank while Haaland, the Premier League’s top scorer, is anticipated to lead the line. Haaland, who recently recovered from a groin ailment, will probably have his minutes limited on Saturday.
With regards to Leicester, Harvey Barnes, Ricardo Pereira, James Justin, and Ryan Bertrand are all out due to hamstring ailments. However, Smith has revealed that Youri Tielemans will rejoin the matchday squad after overcoming an ankle injury.
Jonny Evans will be vying to start in place of either Daniel Amartey or Wout Faes after watching as an unused replacement last weekend due to a thigh injury. Smith may decide to continue with a back four as he has previously defended with four players against Man City while playing for Villa and Norwich.
After serving a one-match suspension, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall is available for selection and may replace Boubakary Soumare in the center of the field. Former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho will battle Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy for a spot in the attack; the latter is set to make his 300th Premier League appearance for the Foxes and has scored more league goals against Guardiola’s City team than any other player.
Manchester City possible starting lineup
Ederson, Lewis, Akanji, Dias, Ake, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Mahrez, Haaland, and Grealish.
Leicester City’s possible starting lineup
Iversen, Castagne, Evans, Faes, Kristiansen, Dewsbury Hall, Ndidi, Tete, Maddison, Daka, and Vardy.
We predict: Manchester City 4-0 Leicester City
The two clubs, who are in contrasting states of play going into the match on Saturday, are mindful that earning all three points might be crucial to achieving their individual Premier League goals.
Leicester will be looking for a rebound under Smith as their new manager, but the odds are clearly stacked against the Foxes, who might be in for another challenging afternoon against a Man City team that is in good form.