Man City v Leicester: Back in-form champions to extend title lead

Paul Higham thinks Man City will extend their lead at the top of the table with a win against Leicester that will be harder work than some expect.

Champions City hoping to stretch lead

With Liverpool's game against Leeds postponed, Man City can go six points clear at the top of the Premier League if they can maintain their terrific run of 10 wins in their last 11 games by beating Leicester at the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola's side are in ominous form as they've started their usual long unbeaten run a little bit earlier than in previous seasons, and with 11 goals scored and none conceded in their last three wins then they couldn't be in better shape.

As is the new norm these days, we have to mention the Covid status around clubs and City have as yet been untouched by the virus, and got a lucky break when rivals Chelsea and Liverpool both had players missing when they both drew in the last round of fixtures.

If City's games remain on then they have a chance to open up a nice gap in the title race, one that could be decisive given the size and depth of their squad, and resources to even improve it in January, means they'll always be able to field a strong side.

A case in point was at Newcastle where Guardiola could afford to leave Jack Grealish and Phil Foden on the bench for disciplinary reasons, and still come away with a 4-0 win. If the rest aren't careful, City could be over the hill and gone in the next couple of weeks.

Struggling Foxes fighting fit again

Leicester have been hit by Covid but Brendan Rodgers had all his players back for their penalty shootout defeat at Anfield in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, in a game that summed up their season as they blew a 3-1 lead against a much-changed Liverpool side. They've just not been able to stop conceding goals.

That magnificent 5-2 win at the Etihad last season seems a long time ago now for Leicester, who have certainly regressed this season, especially away from home where they've already lost as many times as they did the entire campaign last year (three) and have just two wins - against Norwich and Brentford.

They've scored in every Premier League away game and been involved in some entertaining matches, with only Liverpool's away games containing more goals, but there'll only be one winner if they try and take City on at their own game.

The Foxes still have talent and in Jamie Vardy they'll always have a goal threat, but they'll need to get their tactics right to avoid taking a bit of a pasting here.

Bookies expect goals at the Etihad

With four home wins on the spin and just one goal conceded, City are naturally huge 1.21 favourites with 17.0 available on the exchange for a Leicester victory - you'd usually not rule out the draw at 8.4 here but Leicester will need to show us something we've not seen this season to even take a point.

City have the joint-best home record in the league along with Arsenal and have won eight of the last 10 against Leicester so all the form is in the book to expect the champions to take another three points.

We could question the goals angle though, even with Leciester coming off the back of a 3-3 draw at Anfield, as four of the last five meetings have had under 2.5 goals - with three of them just having one goal in the game.

With under 2.5 goals here available at 3.2 then it could be worth a chance as surely even Rodgers knows when to stick or twist tactically, and this is definitely a game where you defend first and try and hit City on the counter - following Crystal Palace's example from earlier in the season.

Under 3.5 gives us a more modest return at 1.89 - which is boosted to 2.1 if coupled with a home win.

Can Vardy spoil the party?

Jamie Vardy bagged a hat-trick here last season and a nice double at Anfield to show he could be finding the same form that saw him scored seven in his first eight league games this season. He's scored eight against City, including two hat-tricks, so is worth a look at 3.6 as an anytime scorer.

It's about time Vardy broke his Boxing Day duck as well having never scored on December 26 in six Premier League appearances.

James Madison is also returning to form, he scored a belter at Anfield and in the league has three goals and three assists in just his last four games. He's 6.0 for a goal here and 8.0 for an assist.

Raheem Sterling has scored in his last three Premier League games and is 2.0 second-favourite in the anytime goalscorer market, which is headed by Riyad Mahrez - who holds the distinction of having the worst Boxing Day losing record in Premier League history. He's lost all five of his Premier League games on the day.

Bernardo Silva often pops up with a goal in games like this, while compatriot Joao Cancelo has been a major factor of late and it wouldn't be surprised if he scored or set one up, but after 18 shots on target this season and seven in his last five I'm happy to stick him in a shots on target Bet Builder or back him to have two here at 4.2.


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