The final phase of Premier League action is set to commence this weekend after the international break which saw the top teams in Europe compete for a spot in the 2022 World Cup Finals. The highlight of the weekend is the clash between first-placed Manchester City and third-placed Leicester City. Pep Guardiola’s men have almost sealed this year’s Premier League title, while Leicester will be eager to give the Citizens a run for their money in the final leg of the League.
Here’s our preview of Saturday’s fixture between Manchester City and Leicester City FC:
The Citizens have won 25 of their last 26 games across competitions – their only loss coming against long-term rivals Manchester United. Since that game, however, City have bounced back to win four back to back games. Pep Guardiola’s men undoubtedly have their sights on an unprecedented quadruple – no team has ever won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup in the same year. In the Premier League, City boast a 14-point lead over second-placed Manchester United, with 71 points from 30 games.
Pep Guardiola will be buoyed by the choices at his disposal, City will be heading into Saturday’s fixture with the full squad fit and ready – a rarity in the Premier League. But Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko have all played three matches each for their national teams in the past week, and their energy levels would be in doubt. Leading goal-scorer Sergio Aguero will be leaving the club at the end of the season, and would be eager to spend time on the field.
Guardiola would also like to keep his team fresh for Tuesday when City face Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. But even a second-rung Manchester City squad is full of world-class players and can defeat Leicester.
Leicester City have proved time and again that they are worthy of being called a top-flight club in the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers’ men have had a phenomenal season – they currently sit third with 56 points from 29 fixtures. They are just one point shy of second-placed Manchester United and come Saturday, the Foxes might well be the main challengers to Manchester City’s title procession. But Brendan Rodgers sights will be firmly on ensuring a top-four finish, Leicester are just seven points ahead of West Ham United, and any slip-ups can narrow that lead in a few games.
The Foxes enter the fixture with confidence after beating Manchester United 3-1 in the FA Cup Quarter-finals before the international break. They have also defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 and Sheffield United 5-0 in the Premier League to recover from the defeat against Arsenal earlier in the month.
Brendan Rodgers will be happy with the return of James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira to the team, while James Justin and Harvey Barnes remain on the sidelines due to injury. The focus will be on former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho who has been the club’s leading goalscorer in recent weeks.
HEAD TO HEAD
The head-to-head is overwhelmingly in favour of the Citizens. Of the 121 fixtures played between both the teams across competitions, City have won 61, levelling 29 and losing just 31 of the fixtures. City’s advantage remains even if recent fixtures are considered – the Citizens have won eight of the last ten games played between the sides. But Brendan Roders’ side will be looking at their 5-2 win in their most recent encounter earlier in the Premier League season for hope.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The likely return of James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira will give a boost to Brendan Rodgers’ plans of holding City back if they cannot manage a victory. With Pep Guardiola’s mind firmly set on the quadruple, he is likely to rotate his squad much more frequently in the upcoming weeks, fielding second-rung squads in the Premier League. Expect a competitive encounter with both teams scoring multiple goals.
Manchester City Predicted XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Foden, Aguero, Torres.
Leicester City Predicted XI: Schmeichel, Soyuncu, Evans, Fofana, Albrighton, Tielemans, Ndidi, Praet, Castagne, Vardy, Iheanacho.
When: Saturday, 3 April 2021, 10:00 PM IST
Where: King Power Stadium, Leicester
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be streamed on Star Sports and Star Sports Select channels.
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