Following a shocking defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend, Manchester City will be keen to return to winning ways as they meet Leicester City this midweek.
December often brings a hectic schedule to big clubs across England and Manchester City seem to have suffered the same fate this time, after having lost to Crystal Palace in their last game. It was a disappointing result that not only put Liverpool on top in the title race but also disrupted their flow as we head into the boxing day.
Therefore, a win against Leicester City could be imperative if City are to sustain the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
Head coach Pep Guardiola will be hoping that his side can maintain their attacking supremacy, having already netted 37 goals in just 18 games this season. However, defence will remain an issue, with the Citizens failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their last eight matches in all competitions.
Leicester, on the other hand, have also slumped to a defeat against Palace earlier this month. But, they will be high on confidence having secured a shocking win against Chelsea in their last game.
That being said, the Foxes have been rather inconsistent so far, especially in attack as they have scored only 21 goals this season. Thus, we can expect Claude Puel’s men to just sit back and defend whilst hoping to attack City on the counter as they aim to cause yet another upset this week.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look both of the sides ahead of their crucial fixture on the boxing day.
Team news & tactics
The return of Jamie Vardy and Ben Chilwell served as a boon for Puel last weekend and the coach will be delighted to have both of them available for this one. However, the Frenchman will continue to miss out on the services of Daniel Amartey and Matty James.
Summer arrival Ricardo Pereira will deputize for the injured Amartey in the right back position while Chilwell will occupy the opposite flank. The 22-year-old has become a key figure in defence and will be tasked with the responsibility of stopping the City wingers.
Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire will continue to form the central defensive partnership. Both the defenders are known for their dogged defending, which will be tested more than ever against a mighty City attack this week.
Switching to a 4-3-3 formation has worked out pretty nicely for Puel, of late and therefore, he will definitely retain the three-man midfield line consisting of Wilfred Ndidi, Nampalys Mendy and Hamza Choudhury. All of them can work hard and will be ideal in dealing with the technically gifted midfielders of Manchester City.
Vardy will be leading the line for Leicester City. His pace and aggression will be crucial as his side take the counter-attacking approach against Guardiola’s men. He will be supported by the wide-duo of Demarai Gray and James Maddison.
Probable lineup(4-3-3): Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi, Mendy, Choudhury; Gray, Vardy, Maddison.
Unlike Leicester, Manchester City will be dealt with a long injury list with the likes of Claudio Bravo, Eliaquim Mangala and Benjamin Mendy sidelined with an injury while Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and David Silva are all doubtful to start this week.
However, we could expect Fernandinho return to match fitness by tomorrow, meaning John Stones could return to his preferred centre-back position, where he will be starting alongside Aymeric Laporte. Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph will continue to feature as fullbacks.
In midfield, the return of Fernandinho will allow de Bruyne to make his first start in the league this season. He will be starting alongside Bernardo Silva in a slightly advanced position. Both of them will be expected to move around the half spaces and help Manchester City in their transition play.
In attack, Sergio Aguero will be deployed ahead of Gabriel Jesus as the central striker and the Argentine certainly needs to perform, having struggled with injuries in recent weeks.
Aguero will be supported by the wide-duo of Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, who will replace Leroy Sane in the starting lineup.
Probable lineup(4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph; Silva, Fernandinho, de Bruyne; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Leicester‘s last 9 games (Premier League).
- Manchester City have scored 16 more goals than Leicester City in the league this season.
- Manchester City have a strong record against Leicester, remaining undefeated in 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions.
- Man City have scored at least 2 goals in 7 of their last 8 matches.
- Only four teams have conceded fewer goals than Leicester this year. All of them currently occupy the top four spots in the league table.
Player to watch
Kevin de Bruyne
The absence of Kevin de Bruyne has been a huge blow for Manchester City this season. But, the Belgian international is slowly returning to full fitness, having featured in the last couple of matches – albeit as a substitute.
That being said, we can expect de Bruyne to be given the nod ahead of Gundogan in central midfield this week, which will be a boon for Man City.
The former Chelsea star is undoubtedly one of the best playmakers in world football at the moment and his ability to create chances as well as providing the spark going forward might be exactly what City need as they aim to breach the well-organised Leicester City defence that has conceded only 21 goals in 18 matches.
Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City
Despite boasting an excellent defensive record in the league this season, containing the well-oiled Manchester City attack might prove to be too much for Leicester City this week. And the fact that the Foxes have lacked substance in attack further reduces their chances of doing well against the defending champions, thus we can expect the visitors to secure a comfortable 2-0 win in this one.