Manchester City will be on the prowl for three points to secure their Champions League spot as they host Leicester City on Saturday at the Etihad stadium.
Manchester City have only three league games remaining. Given the circumstances, City are closer than ever to secure third position in the Premier League standings and also to guarantee the coveted Champions League berth.
City are currently a point behind Liverpool, but they have a game in hand and a better goal difference. Also, City have enjoyed a stronger form considering they lost only once in their last fourteen games.
Last season’s fairytale champions Leicester City have shown signs of decline, and crumpled under the weight of the defending champions tag. They are 41 points below league leaders Chelsea.
Following the Manchester City game, Leicester will have to play Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth. However, they do have seven wins from their last ten games, and have turned things around to some extent when compared to their disastrous performances earlier.
Team News and Tactics
Both John Stones and Sergio Aguero will be available for selection ahead of City’s home game with Leicester City. Stones missed the last five games due to a muscle injury and Aguero had limped off against Middlesbrough about two weeks ago. However, they are likely to feature in this game against the Foxes.
But Pep Guardiola will have to be content without long-term injured personnel like Claudio Bravo and Ilkay Gundogan.
Looking at the bigger picture, City have been somewhat consistent throughout the second-half of the season with 30 points from 16 matches since January. They’ve had some emphatic wins and some frustrating losses, so all Guardiola can do now is put all his effort into ensuring his team wins this clash against Leicester City.
Craig Shakespeare has brought Leicester out of a slump, and the Foxes now play a very counter-attacking style of football. City’s defenders will have work to do as they’ll have to restrict Leicester’s strikers, and focus on restraining them to the point where frustration seeps in. That is when Guardiola’s men will have to launch a sudden attack.
Probable lineup: Caballero, Kompany, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Toure, Clichy, Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne, Sane, Jesus
Craig Shakespeare has been dealt with a huge blow after Danny Drinkwater was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a thigh injury.
Robert Huth has a foot problem and might be doubtful, while Wes Morgan is missing with the hamstring injury he picked up against Atletico Madrid in their Champions League fixture.
Last week’s victory over Watford proved that they are still a lot better than the teams in the bottom half, but their matches against Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool were commendable and Shakespeare will be hoping the team retains a similar form against Manchester City.
Their defence still has certain issues. This was evident after goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was adjudged Man of the Match against Watford. However, Leicester can progress only if they play more attacking football, which they are likely to do against City. Doing so will ensure they add to the seven goals they scored in their last two matches with Manchester City.
Probable lineup: Schmeichel, Huth, Benalouane, Fuchs, Simpson, Albrighton, Ndidi, Amartey, Mahrez, Okazaki, Vardy
- Leicester took four points off Manchester City last season and were 4-2 winners at the King Power Stadium in December.
- The Foxes haven’t won three matches in a row against City for 50 years dating back to March 1967.
- Leicester have won five of their last six top-flight matches away at Manchester City, with their only defeat coming in March 2015.
- City have lost just one of their last 14 games, winning seven and drawing six.
- Pep Guardiola’s side have only lost one league game at home this season, but they have drawn seven of their 17 matches.
Player to watch out for: David Silva
David Silva is probably one of the most creative playmakers in the Premier League at present. He has been a firm favourite among the critics and fans at the Etihad in the 275 matches he’s played since joining Manchester City in 2010. The best part about Silva is that he makes everything look effortless and is a treat to watch.
In tonight’s game, his play-making skills can do a lot as Leicester City’s defence have not been in the best shape lately. He is capable of coming up with opportunities, and does so with great tenacity. Partnering up with his fellow teammates in the front line, Silva has the potential to be lethal against a faltering defence line.
Both teams have certain boons and banes, but the likely out come of the match is a 2-1 victory for Manchester City.
It is simply a matter of consistency, and in that regard, Manchester City will come out on top. Guardiola knows the importance of this game and would not allow his team to squander it.
Unless Leicester City can come up with a strategic plan to outplay Manchester City and out-smart Pep Guardiola, the Foxes have very little chances of registering a win in this one.