Manchester City will be looking to make it three wins in a row when they take on Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Manchester City started the 2021/22 season in an unsatisfactory manner, as a Community Shield loss to  Leicester City was followed by a 1-0 loss away to Tottenham in their Premier League opener. The Citizens have since responded in some fashion by registering back-to-back 5-0 wins; first, they thrashed Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium before thumping Arsenal by the same scoreline ahead of the international break.

On Saturday, City will make a trip to East Midlands to take on Leicester at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes have recently proven to be a challenging opposition for the Citizens. Leicester have emerged victorious in two of the last three meetings between these sides, but they haven’t defeated the defending champions at the King Power since December 2018.

The Community Shield winners began their 2021/22 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Wolves at home but suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to the hands of West Ham United the subsequent week. Brendan Rodgers & co. managed to get back on track before the international break, grabbing a 2-1 win over Norwich.

So, Leicester and Manchester City have collected six points from three Premier League games played so far and sit ninth and seventh in the standings, respectively. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Leicester City

During Thursday’s pre-match media briefing, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that the international break had benefitted them fitness-wise. Jonny Evans and Jannik Vestergaard have progressed well, and both are in contention to feature on Saturday, although it is doubtful that Rodgers will risk both of them; thus, Evans may start while Vestergaard will be available on the bench.

Ryan Bertrand is also back available while Ricardo Pereira has recovered from the hamstring injury that forced him off at Carrow Road, which means Wesley Fofana (foot) and James Justin (knee) are the only players sidelined due to injuries. Ayoze Perez will also be unavailable as he is serving the three-match suspension for the red card he picked up against West Ham United.

Rodgers may prefer a 4-2-3-1 setup with an idealogy to hit Manchester City hard on fast counters while keeping defensive prowess at the back. Kasper Schmeichel will be the undisputed choice between the sticks for Leicester. Evans and Caglar Soyuncu will take their places at the heart of the Leicester defence, guarding Schmeichel. Soyuncu and Evans will likely be flanked by Pereira and Luke Thomas.

The midfield duo of Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi will form the double pivot. Marc Albrighton’s wonderful goal at Norwich can earn him another start, whilst James Maddison and Harvey Barnes are set to play just behind a lightning-quick Jamie Vardy, leaving Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho vying for minutes off the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Thomas; Ndidi, Tielemans; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy

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Manchester City

Benjamin Mendy remains in custody amid a criminal case against him; Manchester City have suspended the player until the pending investigation gets completed. Despite an injury scare during his international duty, Aymeric Laporte is fit and available. Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden may also feature, but it is possible that both of them will start the game on the bench.

Manchester City’s Brazilian players Gabriel Jesus and Ederson are both suspended by FIFA, after the club did not allow them to travel for the international break. With Zack Steffen in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson could get a rare start in goal in the weekend’s crunch clash.

City boss Pep Guardiola will field a 4-3-3 formation as usual, with full-backs Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo pushing high up the pitch to provide the added width and support in midfield alongside their main job of shutting down the flanks for opposition wingers.

No one is getting past the solid pairing of John Stones and Ruben Dias at the heart of Manchester City’s defence. The midfield three will consist of Bernardo Silva, Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan. Rodri will likely sit back to shield the back four, maintaining possession in midfield and enabling Silva and Gundogan to surge forwards, with the former Borussia Dortmund man expertly making late runs into the box.

Gabriel Jesus’ rise as a right-sided forward has been a major revelation over the recent weeks, but with him banned from playing this week, Raheem Sterling could be reinstated in the frontline alongside Jack Grealish and Ferran Torres.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Carson, Walker, Dias, Stones, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Sterling, Torres, Grealish

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Key Stats

  • None of the last 11 league meetings between Leicester and Manchester City has finished as a draw, with the Foxes winning four to the Citizens’ seven.
  • Leicester have won three of their last five Premier League home games against reigning champions (L2), beating Liverpool 3-1 last season.
  • Of all Premier League fixtures to have been played at least 20 times, Leicester vs Manchester City is the only one to have been won by the away side over 50% of the time – 11 away wins in 20 games (55%).
  • Manchester City lost their last away league game of 2020-21 and their first away game this season, having lost just one of their previous 20 on the road in the Premier League (W16 D3). They’ve not lost both of their first two away games in a single Premier League campaign since 2006/07.
  • Jamie Vardy has scored eight goals and provided 3 assists in 14 Premier League games against Manchester City. Vardy has struck two of his three Premier League hat-tricks against Guardiola’s City.

Player to Watch

Jack Grealish

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The 25-year-old has not had the greatest of starts following his £100 million switch to the Etihad as he seemed to struggle after coming as a sub in the Community Shield and in the Premier League opener against Tottenham. However, Grealish has turned it around with impressive performances in the last two games for the Citizens.

The huge number of chances he creates for his teammates and the fouls he can draw in dangerous positions will come in handy for the Citizens throughout the season. He has the ability to attract opposition defenders towards him with his flashy runs and dribbling, which plays the game into City’s hands. His interplay with his new teammates is a bonus and would be remarkable if the link-up reaches its full potential.

At City, Grealish is having more of the ball that makes him more effective as he can create openings from an advanced position, resulting in a direct contribution, either as a goal or an assist. His overall output is certainly going to increase significantly at Manchester City this season.

Prediction

Leicester City 2-3 Manchester City

This fixture has always proven to be one of the most fascinating matches of the season, with both sides playing fast, free-flowing football. Manchester City will miss the ball-playing composure of Ederson sorely in goal. This, in turn, will create added responsibility for their defenders.

Scott Carson conceded three goals in his last appearances for City, suggesting goals in excess in this tie. Manchester City’s abundance of attacking quality, though, might just be too much for Brendan Rodgers & co. to handle. Hence The Hard Tackle predicts Manchester City to take all three points from this tricky fixture, with Jack Grealish starring in particular.

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