Leicester could be handed a big boost as Schmeichel is closing in on a return earlier than expected. Ranieri doesn’t believe he will be ready, but says a decision will rest with the goalkeeper. It’d be a strengthening in goal but he’s very much 50/50. A host of regulars were rested midweek so fatigue won’t be a concern, with Drinkwater the only absentee from an otherwise full strength squad. They’re in a poor stretch of form, but the opportunity to play at home as the underdog will suit them, allowing them to play exclusively on the counter against an opponent who will attack. They’re decent at home and though they need a win, a draw wouldn’t be a poor result at all. They still have plenty of belief and will look to spring an upset. The opening goal will be important for Leicester as it gives them something to hold onto, but with their defence less than secure at present it’s unlikely they’d close out a single goal win. They’d have to keep looking to counter, but with Vardy and Mahrez struggling for form, goals may be harder to find. If they trail the best they’d likely get is a point, as taking risks leaves a lot of space.
Manchester City have seen the spine of their team decimated by ill-discipline as key figures Fernandinho and Aguero both serve suspensions, leaving a big void to be filled. Otamendi is also banned and with Kompany injured centre back options are limited. A back three is expected, while Fernando and Iheanacho step in for the other absentees in a weakening. Sterling returns and should start in a positive. Despite their absentees, they’ll come into the game expecting to win and keep applying pressure at the top of the table. They’ll play expansively, which does leave them vulnerable defensively, with clean sheets something of a rarity. They rely on outscoring and dominating opponents, which they’re capable of, but if they’re complacent and give Leicester space they will punish on the break. Confidence is at a good level and they’ll genuinely believe they can beat Leicester, despite a decent home record. A draw won’t suit, so the game will naturally open up and see chances at either end as it progresses. In what could be an entertaining contest Man City will keep pushing for goals against a Leicester side struggling to keep things tight, so even if behind they’ll fancy their chances.
Leicester effectively threw in the towel with their team sheet for the midweek Champions League game, recognising nothing was at stake and it was a chance to rest key players. They’ll be under a bit of pressure now to justify those changes, particularly with the team in poor form overall. They’ve dropped down the table due to a struggling patch of results, so they come into the game short on confidence and belief. One shred of comfort is that their home form remains fairly strong, so they’ll believe they can take something from Man City, with a draw being a welcome result. As it stands Ranieri is under no threat in his position, despite their title defence being a disaster so far. They’re two points and two places above the relegation zone, so pressure is mounting. There should be no issues with motivation and a point could really kick start their season. The mood around Man City was fairly low after their loss to Chelsea, largely because of the performance, but also the ill-discipline that is now costing them in this game. They’ll be eager to bounce back and will travel to Leicester only interested in picking up all three points. The players remain confident, as does the manager, but dropping further points could hand a big advantage to those above them, so there is pressure when facing a Leicester side who are decent at home. A win is a chance to apply their own pressure, so there won’t be a lack of motivation.
Prediction: Over 2.75 goals
Odds: 1.86 SBOBET