Leicester City vs Manchester City
It’s an eventful week for the Premier League champions – and probably a stressful one too.
And that was before they even kicked a ball for the first time in a fortnight – their Premier League highlights compilation finally resuming against West Ham last night.
While City have been wrestling with matters and legal appeals off the pitch, as well as the Hammers on the pitch, Leicester will have had more than week off since their last outing – a largely uneventful goalless draw at Wolves which kept them comfortably in third place.
So, is this the chance for the Foxes to inflict further punishment on Pep Guardiola and his men?
By the way, if you thought the coverage of the past week which has saturated media is over, think again.
The forthcoming court battles between City and European football’s governing body – UEFA says City’s owners have ploughed in illegal millions and dressed it up as sponsorship – will have repercussions that will be felt around the football world, and beyond.
Just in case you’ve been on the moon this past seven days, the Financial Fair Play rules the club are alleged to have broken were designed to try to keep the playing field level – to stop one rich individual (or state, in the case of City’s Abu Dhabi owners) effectively buying championships.
Time and time again over the past few weeks, Guardiola has responded to questions about his future by stating his intention to see out his contract with the Sky Blues, which does not expire until 2021.
Yet he has also consistently expressed his trust in the City hierarchy when they have assured him there was no foundation to the claims being looked into by UEFA’s investigatory panel.
This trip to Leicester, to be swiftly followed by a trip to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid, are the first real tests to see how he and his players react.
Will they close ranks and emerge stronger or will the pressure take its toll on the field?
For the home side, there will be no Hamza Choudhury – suspended following his sending-off at Wolves – while hopes will rest on Jamie Vardy on what should be his 201st top flight appearance for the Foxes.
The 33 year-old may have gone six Premier League games without a goal – his longest run without a league goal since he went seven games between December 2016 and February 2017 – but he remains a class act with a good record against the champions.
Can he knock them when they’re down?
Just before Christmas, City came from behind to record a 3-1 win over the Foxes at the Etihad Stadium.
Leicester have upset City before, indeed last season they defeated the champions on Boxing Day in a match which, at the time, seem to have caused fatal damage to their title hopes.
However, arguably the most key moment of last season was in the return fixture in May when Vincent Kompany scored a wonder goal to put City on the verge of retaining the championship which, of course, they duly did.
Guardiola’s first ever game against Leicester in 2016 left him and his team with a bloodied nose.
In fact, the then reigning champions were 4-0 up at one stage, inspired by Jamie Vardy, before City pulled two goals back in a memorable 4-2 victory for the home side.
That was the first time since 1988 that Leicester had beaten City.
The last time Leicester won at City was famously in 2016, inspired by Riyad Mahrez (now of City), as the Foxes famously went on to win the title against the odds.
City have won seven of the last eight meetings (two in a penalty shoot-out after League Cup ties ended level). Overall, City have won 60 of their meetings with 30 wins for the Foxes and 29 draws.
|Leicester City vs Manchester City||Manchester City Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.36|
|February 23, 01:30 (GMT+8)|
SBOTOP Premier League betting odds make City massive favourites – 1X2 @ 1.72 with Leicester @ 4.40.
The draw is available @ 3.85 which surprise me given these are the sides placed second and third in the table.
With Asian Handicap betting, City are -1.00 @ 2.29 with Leicester + 1.00 @ 1.70.
They’re the most attractive odds which have been offered for a City win in quite some time, although that is partly down to the fact they have a key last 16 Champions League summit with Real Madrid just four days later.
Will there be goals as there usually is? Over 3.00 goals @ 1.88 and under 3.00 goals @ 2.02 differ little, while total goal 0-1 @ 5.20 contrasts with total goal 2-3 @ 2.09 and total goal 4-6 @ 2.59.
A repeat of last season’s scoreline – correct score 2-1 – is available @ 15.00, whereas for City to record a second successive 3-1 success pays out @ 11.50.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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