Premier League preview: Manchester City vs. Leicester City

Martin Rickett/PA via AP
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  • Clash of the PL’s top two teams
  • Leicester currently three points ahead of Man City
  • Leicester unbeaten in 6 league games; Man City unbeaten in 7
  • First meeting (Dec. 29): Leicester 0-0 Man City

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As things stand, Leicester City and Manchester City are the two teams with the inside track on this year’s Premier League title, in that they’ll be the top two sides in the league table when they face off at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 7:45 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Suffice it to say, this is this season’s “big one” (so far).

Man City enter Saturday’s top-two showdown in their best form of the entire season (unbeaten in seven in the PL – four wins, three draws). That said, the Sky Blues are still without back-to-back league wins since the middle of October — the perfect statistical oddity to describe their good-but-not-great, frustrating-as-ever season thus far. With injuries currently affecting every positional unit of the squad, the pressure to nearly singlehandedly will his team to the title exists for Sergio Aguero (13 goals in 17 league games, including five in his last three).

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On the other side, Leicester are unbeaten in six league games and carry all the world’s momentum into Saturday, with many thanks to Tuesday’s victory over Liverpool — and that Jamie Vardy goal. Having come through the first leg of the Liverpool-Man City-Arsenal gauntlet unscathed, the Foxes are just two wins away from being dubbed legitimate title favorites.

On the injury front, Claudio Ranieri will have the full complement of players from which to choose his squad. As for City, Manuel Pellegrini‘s side will once again be without captain Vincent Kompany (calf), as well as Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Wilfried Bony (calf), Eliaquim Mangala (hamstring), Jesus Navas (hamstring) and Samir Nasri (thigh).

What they’re saying

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “Maybe it’s not a team with a lot of possession but they defend very well with a lot of concentration and they counter-attack with a lot of speed. If you have the commitment of the players as a manager, that’s the most important thing. … It’s not the biggest game of the season so far- we can win or lose this game and the Premier League will not end here. We have 39 more points to fight for.”

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy: “It doesn’t matter how they play because they’ll come out, attack teams and expect to win. It’s up to us to show that we’re not just going to be pushovers and put in a performance that deserves the victory if we can get it. … I think that day (the 0-0 draw in December) we gave them a bit too much time on the ball and let them play their game instead of us doing what we know best.”

Prediction

Leicester are the perfect away side to give City fits at the Etihad — teams that get numbers behind the ball, crowd the space between midfield and defense and hit on the counter are their achilles’ heel. And no one does those things better than Leicester. For as much possession as they’ll have, City will struggle to break the Foxes down. We’re still a long, long way from knowing anything about this title race. Man City 1-1 Leicester.