Sports Mole previews the Premier League meeting between Manchester City and Leicester City, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.
A late winner for the Reds at St James’ Park lifted them above City into top spot, ensuring that the title race will go right down to the final day, regardless of how the Citizens get on in their game in hand.
This time 12 months ago the only target in sight for Pep Guardiola was to reach triple figures in terms of points in what was a magical Premier League campaign.
Now, with games against Leicester and Brighton & Hove Albion (a) to come, Guardiola’s men are still unable to celebrate back-to-back titles thanks to the never-say-die attitude of Liverpool.
The Merseyside outfit were pushed all the way by Newcastle in Saturday’s late kickoff, with Christian Atsu cancelling out Virgil van Dijk‘s opener and Salomon Rondon doing likewise after Mohamed Salah had netter, but Divock Origi found a way through four minutes from time to leave City needing a victory on Monday.
On the basis of the last three months, that should not be a problem. Not since January 29, ironically at St James’ Park, have the defending champions dropped points.
That is their only defeat in 17 Premier League matches since the end of 2018, in fact, and now they are just six points away from retaining their crown, becoming the first English top-flight side in a decade to do so.
City’s quadruple dream is over, having been eliminated from the Champions League by Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago, though it does at least mean that they have had a rare full week off between matches since edging past Burnley 1-0 last Sunday.
That victory at Turf Moor was incredibly nervy, sealed through a Sergio Aguero goal that only just crossed the line. This has been a season of fine margins, especially in the race for the title as just one point will separate the top two heading into the final day if City, as expected, win at home on Monday for the 18th time in the league this season.
Crystal Palace are the only team to stop Guardiola’s charges from taking maximum points at the Etihad Stadium in 2018-19, and the Citizens have not lost their last home league game of the season since 2012-13, suggesting that Leicester will become the latest team to fail in the mission of halting their opponents’ charge for more silverware.
Recent form in Premier League: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWW
Leicester are now the only side able to catch Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh place following their Midlands rivals’ 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday.
The race for seventh has also been gripping in recent weeks, with the reward for the winner – unless Watford beat Man City in the FA Cup final on May 18 – being a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.
That would be quite some way for Brendan Rodgers to mark his first half-season with the Foxes, but for that to happen his side need to beat Man City and Chelsea (h) in their final two matches, while hoping that Wolves fail to take a point from their final-day trip to Anfield.
It is looking more likely, then, that City will be in a battle with Everton for eighth place, which would still mark a decent return in what has been a mixed campaign on the whole on the field.
Leicester sacked Claude Puel in February and quickly moved to bring in Rodgers, who has managed to get the best out of Leicester’s array of young talents. With a bit of strengthening in the summer, there is the possibility of challenging for a top-six finish next season.
Rodgers’ side showed last time out what they are capable of against top-six opposition as they dismantled 10-man Arsenal, winning 3-0 at the King Power Stadium to get back on track following a defeat to Newcastle and a draw with West Ham United.
That was not the Foxes’ best result of the season, though, having also defeated Man City 2-1 on Boxing Day to inflict back-to-back defeats on their opponents.
They are now looking to complete the top-flight double over the Citizens for the first time since the 1986-87 campaign, while also aiming to do the double against the reigning top-flight champions for the first time since 1985-86 against Everton.
These final two matches for Leicester are all about testing themselves against the highest calibre of opposition. With one point almost certain to be enough to seal a top-half finish, Rodgers will already be preparing for a campaign that may offer even more next season.
Recent form in Premier League: WWWLDW
Up top, Aguero has scored 15 Premier League home goals for City this season – only in 2011-12 (16) has he scored more at the Etihad in a single campaign in the competition – and he found the net four times in last term’s corresponding fixture here.
Young midfielder Hamza Choudhury is another hoping to have done enough to retain his spot in the side after making a first league start since January last weekend, while Harvey Barnes and Demarai Gray are among those pushing for a recall.
Since his Premier League debut in 2014-15, Jamie Vardy has scored more goals against big-six opponents than any other player in the competition (31), and he is almost certain to start this match.
Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, D.Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
Leicester possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Albrighton, Tielemans, Ndidi, Choudhury, Maddison; Vardy
Head To Head
Man City have won three of their last four Premier League meetings with Leicester, though they did lose the reverse fixture 2-1 in December.
The Citizens have won three of their last four home league meetings with the Foxes, meanwhile, having lost their first three such games.
Guardiola has lost two Premier League games against Leicester as Man City boss – only against Chelsea (three) has the Spaniard lost more in the competition.
We say: Man City 2-0 Leicester
Leicester have already showed this season that they have what it takes to beat Man City. They have never won away from home on a Monday night, though, drawing three and losing eight of their 11 such matches, and we cannot see past a home win for the Champions in their final home match of another memorable campaign.