Saturday 6th February – 12:45 – Etihad Stadium
If you’d said at the start of the season that there would be a top of the table clash this weekend, then you would probably point towards Chelsea vs Manchester United. But this Premier League campaign has been the most crazy and unpredictable ever, with Leicester City top of the league, three points behind second placed Manchester City. The two clubs face off at the Etihad in tomorrow’s early kick-off, and if we have a winner, then that could go someway in telling us who will lift the trophy in May. Manuel Pellegrini’s side are unbeaten in their last seven games, and beat Sunderland 1-0 in midweek, but haven’t won in successive league games since October. The Foxes meanwhile, who were still bottom of the league this time last year, beat Liverpool 2-0 on Tuesday as their march to a surprising title continues. They haven’t lost since Boxing Day, but a trip to the North East might be their toughest test yet. A win would see them go six points clear – an unclosable gap for City?
- Winger Jesus Navas has been ruled out for at least three weeks with a hamstring injury picked up against Sunderland on Tuesday.
- That could mean a return for Raheem Sterling, unless Manuel Pellegrini chooses to stick with two upfront, in which Kelechi Iheanacho will keep his place in the side.
- Pellegrini is already without already without Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Samir Nasri, Eliaquim Mangala (both hamstring), Vincent Kompany and Wilfried Bony (both calf), but Fabian Delph (calf) could return from injury.
- Claudio Ranieri will make a late call on whether new signing Daniel Amartey is ready to play. He has previously lacked match fitness following a move from Copenhagen.
- The Foxes have no fresh injury worries, with only Jeffrey Schlupp (hamstring) and Matty James (knee) absent for the league leaders.
- It means that Ranieri is likely to name an unchanged team from the win over Liverpool, with Shinji Okazaki once again to provide support for lone striker Jamie Vardy in a 4-4-1-1 system.
The Key Battle: Martin Demichelis vs Jamie Vardy
At the start of January, Martin Demichelis had his bags packed for his homeland, but injuries to both Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim mean that he is now an essential part of Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI.
Like Pellegrini, the centre-back is set to leave the Etihad Stadium this summer and move back to where his career began – River Plate. The 35 year old was set to move last month until the deal collapsed and since he has featured in City’s last eight games in all competitions, keeping clean sheets in half of them.
But he comes up against the Premier League’s top scorer on Saturday lunchtime, Jamie Vardy, who netted his 17th and 18th goals of the campaign against Liverpool on Tuesday.
The first of which has been described as the goal of the season so far, as the striker’s remarkable rise continues. Surely he’s currently one of the first names on Roy Hodgson’s list to take to the European Championships this summer?
Manchester City wins = 53 / Leicester City wins = 27 / Draws = 29
*According to http://www.11v11.com
Last Meeting: Leicester City 0-0 Manchester City (29th December 2015)
Leicester City missed the chance to return to the top of the Premier League as they played out a goalless draw with Manchester City at the King Power Stadium. Claudio Ranieri’s side can take great heart, however, from a highly impressive response to only their second league defeat of the season at Liverpool on Boxing Day – but Arsenal stay top on goal difference. Leicester and Manchester City both had chances in an entertaining encounter, with goalkeepers Kasper Schmeichel and Joe Hart excelling with a succession of saves. Man of the moment Jamie Vardy missed Leicester’s best chance when he shot over the top after racing clear in the first half while the normally lethal Sergio Aguero was off target from inside the six-yard box as both sides pushed for the win. [BBC]
Manuel Pellegrini: “It’s not the biggest game of the season so far – we can win or lose this game and the Premier League will not end here. We have 39 more points to fight for. You cannot think you’re champion if you win and if you lose, there are lots more points. It’s a good game, a big game, but not decisive.”
Claudio Ranieri: “Man City have too many dangerous players. You can play a perfect match but they’ll win because they have magicians. It’s an open game as they want to win. We want to win too, so it’s open. Both teams want to win, so maybe it’ll be a draw!”
The Referee – Anthony Taylor
- Last Premier League game: Everton 1-2 Swansea City (24th January 2016) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Manchester City game: Manchester City 4-1 Sunderland (26th December 2015) – 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Leicester City game: Leicester City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur (20th January 2016) – 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Infographic (courtesy of Sporticos)
All stats from Premier League only and correct up until 05/02/2016
Stat of the Match
Manchester City have a league high 28 points from home games this season (seven wins in their last eight league and cup matches at the Etihad), whilst Leicester City have a league high 25 points from away games this season.
Where Can I Watch It?
It’s Saturday’s early kick-off, so BT Sport 1 have the live coverage from 12pm, with kick-off 45 minutes later. The highlights will then be on BBC One’s Match of the Day on Saturday evening at 10:30pm
My Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Leicester City
It’s a top of the table clash so I think it’ll be close. Manchester City seem to be quite inconsistent this season – one week they beat bottom club Aston Villa 4-0, but the next they can only muster a 1-0 victory over 19th placed Sunderland. Leicester’s fantastic and fascinating run of form looks as though it’ll never come to an end, and a 1-1 draw won’t be bad for them as it keeps the gap at the top to three points. I think the goals will be scored by Aguero and Vardy, and if either side were to win it I’d go for the hosts.