Leicester v Manchester City: Citizens too big to ignore
Third hosts second in the Premier League on Saturday evening as Manchester City travel to Leicester. Mark O'Haire previews the King Power Stadium encounter.
Leicester v Manchester City Saturday February 22, 17:30 Sky Sports
Leicester lethargic despite winter break
Brendan Rodgers felt 10-man Leicester "deserved a point" amid more VAR controversy after playing out a 0-0 draw at Wolves in the Foxes' most recent Premier League outing. The hosts looked to have opened the scoring just before half-time after a short corner routine but a close-range header was ruled out with Pedro Neto judged to be offside in build-up.
Despite the goalless nature of the game, the contest was full of incident and goalscoring chance. However, poor finishing ensured the points were shared with Raul Jimenez the chief culprit for the home side, whilst Foxes' cat Kasper Schmeichel was in fine form. Elsewhere, Jamie Vardy had little impact on proceedings, failing to have a single attempt at goal.
Rodgers gave his squad seven days off during the winter break but his team lacked ideas and fluidity throughout the Molineux match. Nine of the 11 Foxes players to start had made over 20 Premier League starts this term, and despite their downtime, appeared leggy and lethargic, whilst Hamza Choudhury was dismissed 14 minutes from time for two bookings.
Man City flex muscles in midweek
Kevin de Bruyne made one goal and scored another as Manchester City easily saw off West Ham 2-0 in their first game since being banned from European competition for two years by Uefa. Friday's punishment - which City say they will appeal - has cast a shadow over the club's future but brought a defiant reaction from supporters inside the ground at the Etihad.
Citizens' fans brought banners and regularly chanted anti-Uefa rhetoric throughout the rearranged midweek match in which the defending champions dominated. Rodri met de Bruyne's corner to break the deadlock after half-an-hour and only profligate finishing, notably by Gabriel Jesus, stopped City extending their advantage before the break.
De Bruyne added the second and Man City allowed their guests only six touches inside the penalty area and zero shots on-target in a one-sided display to consolidate second-place. The hosts enjoyed 77% possession with Rodri completing 178 passes - a Premier League record since detailed data collection began - highlighting City's complete control.
City a big price at the KP?
Leicester have lost five of their last six Premier League meetings with Manchester City (W1-D0-L5), although the Foxes did win this fixture last season under Claude Puel's tutorship, and the hosts have also taken top honours in two of their most recent three fixtures when welcoming the Citizens to the King Power Stadium in league action (W2-D0-L1).
Leicester4.70 have regressed to the mean following their flying start to the season. The Foxes have registered just three wins in 10 Premier League encounters since early December (W3-D3-L4), often falling flat against the division's elite (W2-D4-L4 against the top-eight). Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers has never previously beaten a Pep Guardiola side.
Since the start of last season, Man City 1.78 have only been a bigger price when travelling to Anfield in the Premier League with the Citizens as short as 1.50 on their recent trip to Spurs. Guardiola's group face a tough trip to Real Madrid on Wednesday, which could easily impact on their starting XI here, although the away side do hold appeal at the prices.
Citizens and BTTS holds plenty of appeal
Seven of the past nine match-ups between Leicester and Manchester City have paid out for Both Teams To Score1.59 backers with six of those meetings also rewarding Over 2.5 Goals1.56 supporters. However, prohibitive odds make a goals-based play a no-go for Saturday's showdown at the King Power Stadium.
For what it's worth, Leicester have delivered 6/10 (60%) Over 2.5 Goals winners against the top-eight this term with six also delivering in the BTTS column. Man City have also beaten the Over 2.5 Goals line in 6/10 (60%) contests with the top-eight, with the same six fixtures producing goals at both ends.
The Citizens saw Aymeric Laporte return to the fold in midweek and his presence coincided with a rare City clean sheet. The French centre-half might now be rested with Wednesday night in-mind and with the visitors silencing just five of their past 25 opponents, it makes sense to bolster the odds on Man City by throwing BTTS into the mix for a 2.88play.