Manuel Pellegrini had exasperation and anxiety etched into his face at the Emirates as the Citizens lost pre-Christmas, but Man City put that result squarely behind them as they thumped Sunderland on Boxing Day. In contrast, there was little Christmas cheer for the Foxes as Leicester’s 9 match unbeaten run in the league came to an end at Liverpool. Neither team will want to see in the New Year with a loss and Man City will see this as a great opportunity to leapfrog Leicester to second place and keep tight reigns on Arsenal. The Foxes have proven themselves to be the real deal however—this is no fluke, and they will fancy themselves to win on home soil.
Defensive solidity is not something you associate with a Leicester side who have kept just 3 clean sheets all season. However, Wes Morgan’s improbable elevation to being one of the best defenders in the league has won the Foxes a great many points. The veteran Jamaican makes an average of 3 interceptions and 5 clearances per match, and alongside Fuchs and Huth has formed a very functional back line. Using a Leicester defender in your FLIP teams isn’t always the best idea, but against a blunted Manchester City a clean sheet looks more likely.
Alongside his midfield partner Kanté, Drinkwater is the heartbeat of this Leicester side. An interesting article in the Economist argues that if teams concentrate on closing down the two central midfielders it will cut off service to Mahrez and Vardy—and the Foxes will begin losing games. One of the visitors’ finest performers has been Fernandinho, and he’ll be tasked with battling with Drinkwater and trying to disrupt the Foxes’ electrifying attacking game.
Kevin de Bruyne
By far the most potent attacking threat Manchester City possess currently, De Bruyne was the star performer against Sunderland with a goal and 2 assists. He plainly has class and technique far above most players, but with Aguero looking rusty after injury and Wilfried Bony apparently not trusted by his manager, De Bruyne struggled to conjure much against the Gunners. City are likely to score against Leicester, and the Belgian is the player most likely to do it on current form.
Just two assists and a single goal from matching Eden Hazard’s tally last year, Mahrez looks unstoppable. He might just be the best player in the world at the moment, and although his agent has already announced the Algerian will not be going anywhere in January, you have to imagine that if Barcelona make a strong push for him then he may leave. It would be a crying shame to hobble this Leicester side when they have a chance at making history, but it isn’t outside the realms of possibility unfortunately.