Manchester City play host to second-placed Leicester City in a thrilling encounter where the would-be title contenders lock horns with each other on Saturday.
While Pep Guardiola’s side have slipped further away in the chase, the Foxes have stepped up in their stead and are leading the chase to catch leaders Liverpool. However, they didn’t have it their way last weekend where they were held to a 1-1 draw with Norwich City.
In contrast to that, Manchester City thrashed Arsenal 3-0, thanks to a Kevin De Bruyne masterclass. This will be a crucial encounter for both sides and a City win will see them reduce the deficit on Leicester to 1 point.
Whereas a win for Brendan Rodgers’ side will see them further extend their lead over the Etihad outfit and in the process, cut short their gap with runaway leaders Liverpool, who do not play this weekend due to Club World Cup commitments.
A blockbuster encounter could be expected at the weekend when the two sides meet each other. In games like these, individual performances would play a major role in deciding the outcome. Let’s take a look at three key battles that would make this game interesting.
It is a known fact that a team with a strong midfield usually goes on to win a game but in a game like this, where both sides have impressive midfielders, it would not be easy to say one player has the upper hand over the opponent.
However, De Bruyne has been a key component in City’s attacks so far. Against Arsenal, the Belgian was at his lethal best and he scored twice and assisted once to topple Arsenal. All in all, he has been their creative hub and has broken up strong defensive units in the Premier League with ease.
On the other hand, Wilfred Ndidi has been the anchor for the Foxes. Sitting deep in the midfield, he has stopped most of the attacks and has made no mistake so far.
And Maddison has been their playmaker while moving forward. He has attempted more through balls (13) than his City counterpart De Bruyne (11). It would be interesting to see which of them will be more effective.
One of the best forwards in the Premier League, Sterling would be hoping to score against the Foxes on Saturday. He has 9 goals in the league so far and he has been lethal since he moved to Manchester City in 2015.
Playing on the left side, the Englishman will have to face Ricardo Pereira and his fellow defenders to keep it ticking for City. The Foxes boast of the best defensive record in the league so far. They have kept 7 clean sheets, which is the highest this term and in the process, have conceded only 12 goals in 17 games.
Sterling would have to put in an extraordinary performance if he has to break through their lines and it will be a sight to watch when the Foxes defend with much power and dominance.
Rodgers’ 4-1-4-1 has brought a change in the team that had shown its strength – counter-attack with ease. He has added a bit of possession-based style to their game and has succeeded too. And with Youri Tielemans and Maddison always ready to surge forward, they have been providing enough to Jamie Vardy.
On the other hand, Guardiola has always played with the 4-3-3 formation that allows the defence to move to the midfield, with the rest of the players maintaining possession to attack when there is an opening. It would be interesting to see if City can breach Leicester’s defence with their style.