Manchester City vs Leicester Preview

English Premier League | Saturday 6 February | Etihad Stadium | 14:45

Manchester City will host Leicester at the Etihad Stadium in a top-of-the-table clash depending on midweek results which are yet to be played at the time of writing. The Citizens are currently three points behind the surprise leaders, but have a better goal-difference. The reverse tie ended goalless, but with much more a stake this time around - a thrilling encounter is on the cards.  

To Win (90mins)
Manchester City 5/10
Draw 34/10
Leicester City 5/1

Manchester City

Man City were condemned to yet another disappointing result away from home as West Ham held the title-chasers to a 2-2 draw. They did, however, bounce back from that with a resounding 3-1 victory over Everton in the Capital One Cup semi-final, to book a meeting with Liverpool in the final. The invigorating display in the in 4-3 aggregate win over Everton gave everyone at Man City a much-needed boost. A place in the final at Wembley on February 28 was the reward for an exhilarating night's football, spoiled only by the terrible knee injury suffered by Kevin De Bruyne. 

The Belgian is City's second top scorer on 12 goals and the top provider with 12 more. He'll be sorely missed, as the important games just keep coming for Manuel Pellegrini's men. On the plus side, City have won nine of the 10 games without De Bruyne in the side this season. The Sky Blues followed the victory over Everton with a 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa last weekend, with Kelechi Iheanacho scoring a hat-trick as City eased into the fifth round of the FA Cup. Of the sides in the top three, Manchester City boast the worst away record. They have won just four games on the road all season, while their last five away trips have seen them pick up just six points from a possible 18, a far from ideal record for a side challenging for the title. The Citizens will be more than happy to return to their fortress where they have been clinical, winning nine of their 12 home games, netting 33 goals (no team has scored more this term). 

The Man City faithful will be delighted to see Sergio Aguero, their main hitman, back to his brilliant best. The Argentine has 12 league goals, just four behind the league’s leading talisman Jamie Vardy (16). Aguero is always buzzing, running and looking to give his team the edge over their opponents. He is one of the best strikers in world football and in the blink of an eye has the ability to change the game single handedly. Raheem Sterling has been back on the scoresheet in recent weeks. The young Englishman adds tremendous pace to Man City’s game. Sterling is fast, hard-working with dazzling skill, and The Citizens will need his energy and agility against a hard-running Leicester team. Another element to Man City’s success will be Spanish play-maker David Silva. The 30-year old is a visionary on the pitch, creating chances at will, while he still has an eye for goal. With De Bruyne out injured, Silva will be the main creator going forward – teammates as well as fans will look to the Spaniard to keep the team ticking. 

Leicester City

Leicester extended their unbeaten run to five matches last time out with a stifling 3-0 home win over Stoke. The victory moved Leicester three points clear at the top of the Premier League. Leicester had won just one of their last five league games going into this fixture and there were question marks about whether they could stay in the hunt for the Premier League title. But they answered the critics with a thumping win over Stoke - full of energy and industry, and have now conceded just one goal in their last five games. 

Claudio Ranieri has done an outstanding job at Leicester, and the team has certainly adapted to his preferred style of play – hard-working and high pressing with quick lethal counter-attacks. The Foxes are patrolled at the back by a strong centre-back pairing of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. In front of them, N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater occupy the middle of the park, working hard to win the ball when without it, while starting dangerous counter-attacks when the opportunity presents them. Vardy ended his personal goal drought of 10 hours and 17 minutes without a goal in the Premier League, when he scored the second of Leicester’s goals in the win over Stoke. 

Vardy is one of the hardest working strikers in the league; he is quick off the mark and proved he is a top finisher with his record-breaking 11 game record goal-scoring run. He is the league’s top scorer with 16 goals, but wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the master class of Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian international has been Leicester’s most creative player. He is skilful as well as fast; plays with fair and tenacity, and has a wicked left foot. Mahrez is not just effective as a creative player, but has the ability to score goals as well. The 24-year old has scored 13 league goals and will be eager to add to that. Leicester's record of one defeat in their last 16 league games will be firmly put to the test in their next three matches against Liverpool, title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal - games which will define whether they are title challengers or title pretenders.

Probable line-ups:

Manchester City: 4-2-3-1
Hart; Sagna, Demichelis, Otamendi, Clichy; Delph, Toure; Silva, Sterling, Navas; Aguero 

Leicester: 4-4-2
Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Albrighton, Drinkwater, Kante, Mahrez; Vardy, Okazaki

Betting Verdict: Manchester City WIN + BTTS (37/20)
A cagey affair is expected here, but once the first goal is scored, you can expect an open end to end game of attacking football. The Citizens are undefeated against the Foxes in the last seven meetings, so take Man City to Win + Both Teams To Score at a valuable 37/20.   

Written by Aaron Crowie