Leicester City’s season has already surpassed all expectations, with the defeat at Liverpool on Boxing Day being only the second loss of an incredible campaign for the Foxes.
However, with the games coming thick and fast at this time of year, they now face a stern test of their title aspirations from a Manchester City side that would go above Claudio Ranieri’s men on goal difference with victory here. On the other hand, should Leicester win they would have a six-point cushion over the visitors.
It was telling that despite having to chase an equalizer in the latter stages of the game at Anfield, Ranieri opted to substitute his key attacking duo of Jamie Vardy (who apparently had a fever) and Riyad Mahrez, no doubt with this game in mind.
For their part, the Citizens comfortable 4-1 win at home to Sunderland was somewhat offset by the calf injury to Vincent Kompany, less than 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute. It’s been well documented that Manuel Pellegrini’s team are far less secure at the back in the absence of their captain.
For all their success this season Leicester do concede plenty of goals, with the 25 to date being more than any club above the bottom seven. The match fitness and sharpness or otherwise of Sergio Aguero (an unused substitute against Sunderland) could be a key factor in this match.
This really is a six-pointer for both clubs with regards to their respective Premier League aspirations. Should Leicester win, even their biggest doubters will have to acknowledge them as genuine title contenders. Such a result would raise serious question marks over Manchester City’s own hopes and see speculation over Pellegrini’s position reach a similar level to that currently facing Louis Van Gaal at neighbouring United.
Were the Foxes to lose a second straight game, then there will be inevitable claims that their bubble has finally burst. Could they regain momentum after suffering consecutive defeats?
The Citizens certainly need to address their away form, with their last league victory on the road being way back on 12th September at Crystal Palace, but given their array of attacking options and Leicester’s defensive frailties, this just might be the game for them to rectify that.
The 1-0 defeat at Liverpool was the first time Leicester failed to score in the Football Premier League this season and, coupled with Manchester City’s own suspect rearguard in the absence of Kompany, they are certainly capable of scoring again here.