Man City host Leicester at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening. Pep Guardiola’s side are fresh off a 3-0 win against Bayern Munich. The Foxes sit 19th in the table, two points from safety with eight matches left to play. Dean Smith takes charge of his first match as coach of the visitors.
Man City Form
City are 13 matches unbeaten (11 wins, two draws) and have nine victories on the bounce. In the league, they’ve won five successive fixtures having only won three in a row as their longest streak prior to that. A late penalty secured a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace before Erling Haaland plundered five goals past RB Leipzig.
He added a hattrick in a 6-0 FA Cup win against Burnley before his teammates made light work of Liverpool (4-1) in his absence. The Norwegian goal machine netted a brace in a comfortable 4-1 win at Southampton in Man City’s last league match. In midweek, they beat Bayern Munich 3-0 at home in a UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Man City Team News
Phil Foden misses this match having had appendix surgery. He is the only absentee for Guardiola to contend with. There could be some rotation in a busy fixture period with Riyad Mahrez, Kyle Walker, and Aymeric Laporte the three favourites to come into the XI.
Up front, Julian Alvarez may allow Haaland a breather or the latter could play fewer minutes ahead of the Bayern return leg. Kevin De Bruyne was taken off after 68 minutes in midweek for Alvarez so that is another possible change.
Man City Motivation
Nothing less than three points will do. City knows that Arsenal’s slip-up last week means they will be champions if they win every remaining match.
They will look to kill this match off as early as possible and then conserve energy ahead of Wednesday’s match vs the German giants. Some players may have one eye on that tie and avoid injuries.
The Foxes are having a truly dire season. After a four-match losing streak, they took a point at Brighton and won successive matches with four goals scored: 4-2 at Aston Villa and 4-1 vs Tottenham. They sit 13th and sit clear of the drop zone after round 22. Their last eight fixtures have seen seven losses and one draw.
Another four-match losing run saw them beaten by Man Utd, Arsenal, and Chelsea, but also 1-0 at relegation rivals, Southampton. After a 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace, Brendan Rodgers was sacked. Things haven’t improved since as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Aston Villa and looked close to hitting rock bottom last time out. They lost 1-0 at home to Bournemouth in a match where they allowed 19 shots and 2.15 xG.
Leicester Team News
New coach Dean Smith has several injuries to navigate. Harvey Barnes is a major doubt with a hamstring problem and Youri Tielemans has only just returned to training after an ankle problem. At least Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall is back after serving a suspension but James Justin’s season is over.
Jonny Evans and Harry Souttar could both come into the XI at centre-back after the poor recent displays of Daniel Amartey and Wout Faes. Kelechi Iheanacho may start against his former club with veteran Jamie Vardy dropped down to the bench. He managed just 13 touches and one shot in an hour of action vs Bournemouth.
The Foxes would take a point in this match in a heartbeat. Smith isn’t a defensive coach but his side will have to sit relatively deep and be very compact to avoid a thrashing in this one.
Realistically, they will lose this match so some improvement in performance and keeping the scoreline down for their goal difference will be important.
Man City have won 9 matches in a row in all competitions
Man City’s Haaland has scored 11 goals in his last 4 matches
Leicester have lost 7 of their last 8 PL matches
Leicester are 15 PL matches without a clean sheet
Leicester have conceded 17 goals in their last 5 trips to Man City
There only looks to be one winner in this match. Leicester’s only hope is that City are distracted and that Haaland is rested. If the latter starts, he is likely to score once again. A win to nil and using the -2 spread are needed to find value in this one.