A true test of Leicester City‘s purple patch awaits them at the King Power Stadium this Saturday lunchtime, as Premier League champions Manchester City pay a visit.
Brendan Rodgers‘s side convincingly beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 last weekend, while City were held to a goalless draw in the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund.
Whatever Leicester have been feeding their stars since the start of October has gone down a treat, as the Foxes are finally rediscovering their best form to enter Saturday’s game having recorded back-to-back wins over Leeds United and Wolves.
The profligacy of the latter has been evident all season long, but there was no such lack of ruthlessness from Leicester when they visited Molineux last weekend, as Youri Tielemans, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Jamie Vardy came up with the goods in a 4-0 romping.
Having taken 10 points from a possible 15 during a period of marked improvement, Leicester have both eased the pressure on themselves and their manager to climb out of the relegation zone into 17th place – two points clear of all three sides below the dotted line.
Keeping three successive clean sheets is also what the doctor ordered for Leicester before the visit of the champions, and Rodgers’s side have only shipped two goals in total this month, but not since January 2021 have the Foxes won three in a row in the Premier League.
Furthermore, Rodgers’s side are unbeaten at home this month – taking seven points from a possible nine against Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace without conceding a goal – and Man City have recent experience when it comes to being nullified away from home.
Another day, another missed penalty for Riyad Mahrez, who returns to his old club this week still reliving his 12-yard nightmares from the Westfalenstadion as Man City settled for a point away to a determined Borussia Dortmund side.
Mahrez stepped up for his 32nd career penalty in Germany after going down under a challenge from Emre Can, but he recorded his 10th miss from the spot as Gregor Kobel guessed correctly, although that point was all that was required to confirm a first-placed finish in Group G.
Speaking of first place, Man City could rise above leaders Arsenal to the top of the rankings with victory at the King Power Stadium, with the Gunners’ lead cut to two points last weekend, and Mikel Arteta‘s side will not have the chance to respond until they tackle Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
A record of just one win from their last four games is not the Man City that we have grown accustomed to seeing in recent years, and Pep Guardiola‘s side have also gone without a single victory or a single goal in their last three away from home, with doubts over Erling Braut Haaland‘s fitness doing them no favours in their bid to end that barren streak.
A Boxing Day classic last year saw Man City run out 6-3 winners over Leicester after prevailing 1-0 at the King Power, and the Foxes’ most recent win on home soil over Man City coincidentally also came on that festive date back in 2018.
Rodgers has received a major fitness boost with the return of Wilfred Ndidi to training this week, but Jonny Evans is a bit more uncertain. Ryan Bertrand and Ricardo Pereira remain out for the long-term.
Changes will certainly be kept to a minimum this week, but Patson Daka was replaced on the 61-minute mark against Wolves by Vardy, whose late strike was his 100th in the Premier League since his 30th birthday.
Vardy’s penchant for goals against the Big Six clubs is also well-documented – scoring eight against Man City – and he could be the only alteration to the hosts’ starting lineup this week.
Returning players have been the theme for Leicester, but it is the opposite for Man City, as Haaland suffered from a combination of fatigue, illness and a foot injury before being taken off at half time against former employers Dortmund.
The Norwegian was then seen limping into a medical facility for further examination, but Man City are reportedly confident that he has avoided anything serious, and Guardiola affirmed at his pre-game press conference that the striker was feeling better. Nevertheless, Julian Alvarez is on standby if 17-goal Haaland is not risked from the start.
Joao Cancelo was also able to play just 45 minutes due to illness, but his chances of starting at the King Power are seemingly better than Haaland’s, while Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker are both still absent, and Sergio Gomez is available again after a Champions League ban.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Ward; Castagne, Faes, Amartey, Justin; Soumare; Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall, Barnes; Vardy
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Akanji, Laporte; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Foden, Alvarez, Grealish
Leicester’s upturn in form, Man City’s spate of goalless games away from home and concerns over Haaland’s fitness makes this a far trickier game for the champions than some may have anticipated, especially with a rejuvenated Vardy seeking to continue his prolific streak against the big boys.
The Foxes’ resilient defensive streak is unlikely to count for much either way, and while we have faith in Guardiola’s side to get the job done, it would not be surprising to see just the one-goal margin separate the teams.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.