Daniel Amartey

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Premier League Preview: Leicester City v. Man City

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  • Leicester (50 points) sit 3rd in PL table
  • Man City (54) sit 2nd after catching Foxes
  • Last meeting: Man City 3-1 Leicester

Barring arguably the greatest collapse in sports history, Liverpool will win the 2019-20 Premier League title and do so in exceedingly comfortable fashion, but who will finish second behind what could down as the statistically greatest side in PL history? That’s up to Leicester City and Manchester City, who are set to face off with one another on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com), to settle between themselves.

It’s been an unprecedentedly tumultuous week for Man City, who found out last Friday that they had been banned from European competition for two seasons. In their first on-field action since the ban was announced, Pep Guardiola’s side dispatched West Ham United with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday, but the overall mood around the Etihad Stadium was particularly sour and vitriolic. Saturday will mark City’s first away fixture since the ban came down from UEFA, and the two-time defending PL champions are likely to receive a largely disparaging welcome inside from home fans at the King Power Stadium.

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On the other side of the equation, injuries and suspensions to midfielders are the most challenging hurdle for Brendan Rodgers‘ side this weekend. Wilfred Ndidi (knee) and Daniel Amartey (ankle) were already set to miss Saturday’s game through injury before Hamza Choudhury picked up a red card in the Foxes’ scoreless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last Friday. Now, Rodgers is without a recognizable defensive midfielder to face a side featuring the creative nous of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

Injuries/suspensions

Leicester: OUT – Wilfred Ndidi (knee), Hamza Choudhury (suspension), Daniel Amartey (ankle), Matty James (fitness), Nampalys Mendy (knee)

Man City: OUT – Raheem Sterling (hamstring), Leroy Sane (knee)


Projected lineups

Leicester: Schmeichel — Pereria, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell — Tielemans, Praet, Maddison — Perez, Vardy, Barnes

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy — Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernard, Aguero, Jesus


What they’re saying

James Maddison, on the battle for second: “We’ve just got to win as many games as possible. Unlike last year, this year, I think we’ve shown we can beat the teams on paper that the experts say we should beat, and we’ve also taken points against big teams as well, the so called ‘top -six.’ We’ve got a good balance of games going into the end of the season, starting on Saturday, and we’ll treat the Man City game just like we’ll treat the Norwich game next Friday. It’s about, especially at this time of the season, accumulating as many points as possible.”

Guardiola, on his team’s commitment: “This team showed overall determination the last two seasons like no other club has done. Four domestic titles last season and we’ve won seven of the last eight competitions we played. It’s almost impossible. But the desire is always there. I don’t think we are going to do something special because they have this inside of themselves to do this regardless. I am working with exceptional players; I have the feeling they follow us 100 percent.


Prediction

Given their recent form, injuries and suspensions all piling up at once, Leicester’s race appears to have been run as far as a second-place challenge is concerned. Man City showed little sign of being distracted by off-field matters when they beat West Ham, and that should remain the usual service from here on out. Leicester 1-3 Man City

PL Preview: Wolves v. Leicester

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  • These 2 teams played to a 0-0 draw on the season’s opening day
  • 4 of Leicester City’s 6 losses this season have come on the road
  • Wolves have scored just 9 of their 35 goals in the 1st half of PL games

Leicester City has been eyeing second in the Premier League table for some time now.

With Man City on its February break, the Foxes can officially catch Pep Guardiola and take second place with victory on the road at Wolves on Friday, with kickoff set for 3 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

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Just two points back in third, Leicester City can overtake Man City should they top a Wolves squad licking its wounds. Thankfully for the hosts, the February break may have served to alleviate some of those injury concerns. Adama Traore suffered a double blow in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United before the hiatus, dislocating his shoulder and suffering a kick to the calf later that eventually forced him off. Thanks to the long break, Traore is expected to play some part in the match, even if he doesn’t start. If Traore begins on the bench, it could signal a first Premier League start for new signing Daniel Podence.

Leicester City will be without an impactful player as well, with Wilfred Ndidi likely to miss his second straight match, with Brendan Rodgers saying the Nigerian returned too quickly from a knee operation.

Injuries/suspensions

Wolves: OUT – Ruben Vinagre (thigh). QUESTIONABLE – Adama Traore (shoulder/calf).

Leicester City: OUT –  Nampalys Mendy (knee), Ryan Bennett (unable to face parent club), Daniel Amartey (ankle). QUESTIONABLE – Wilfried Ndidi (knee), Wes Morgan (illness), Matty James (Achilles).


Probable lineups

Wolves: Patricio; Jonny, Saiss, Coady, Boly, Doherty; Neves, Moutinho, Jota; Jimenez, Podence.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Choudhury, Praet, Tielemans, Perez, Maddison; Vardy.


What they’re saying

Wolves defender Conor Coady on return of Willy Boly“He slotted straight back in and is a fantastic footballer. He is a brilliant person too to move forward in the team. You saw what he did on Saturday. He did exactly what he did before he got injured. He is a fantastic person to come back in. It’s not an easy game to come into either. He was brilliant and he does that every single game – you know what you are going to get from him. He has been a big miss since he has been injured, so to have him back is a huge thing for this football club.”

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers on Wolves: “It will be a tough test. They are well organized, they’ve been together for a few years. Nuno [Espírito Santo] has done a great job there. I’m looking forward to the challenge of it.”


Prediction

The possible absence of Traore and Ndidi take a bit of sting out of this game, and that could see this headed for another draw. Both teams would rue a loss far more than they would fear a draw, and that’s sometimes how these battles play out. It would be great for the Foxes to find themselves second in the table, and Wolves could jump all the way to fifth, but ultimately the point is the most valuable. It won’t be as dull as the season opener, but a 1-1 draw with some excitement at the end could ultimately play out between two teams proficient at scoring second-half goals.

Premier League Preview: Man United v. Leicester City

Manchester United gets Maguire injury boost
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  • Harry Maguire left Leicester for Man United, for $97 million
  • Leicester 3rd in PL heading into Matchweek 5
  • Man United, riding three-game winless skid, sit 8th

Harry Maguire’s new club, Manchester United, is set to host Maguire’s old club, Leicester City, when the Foxes visit the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold). Maguire moved from Leicester to Man United for a world-record fee (for a defender), after a protracted transfer saga that played out for much of the summer, but it’s Leicester currently enjoying a hot start to their Premier League campaign and occupying a top-three spot.

Meanwhile, United have struggled out of the gates and and sit eighth in the PL table. After thrashing Chelsea on the opening day of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side took just two points from its next three games, including a loss to Crystal Palace. It’s that recent run of results which adds a significant amount of pressure to Saturday’s clash. The top story of United’s still-young season is missed penalty kicks: Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have each failed to convert from the spot this season, leaving everyone, Solskjaer included, unsure of who’ll step up to take United’s next one.

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On the other side, Jamie Vardy is off to a flying start with three goals in four games, including a brace in Leicester’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth just before the international break. Leicester’s greatest strength lies just behind Vardy, though, as Brendan Rodgers has gotten star performances out of each of James Maddison (two assists) and Youri Tielemans (one goal, one assist). The Englishman and Belgian, respectively, have produced free-flowing passages of play with shocking regularity. The duo represents the Foxes’ best chance at breaking back into the top-six — or, dare anyone say it this early in the season, the top-four.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Paul Pogba (ankle), Anthony Martial (thigh), Luke Shaw (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Aaron Wan-Bissaka (back); PROBABLE – Diogo Dalot (hip)

Leicester: OUT – Matty James (achilles); QUESTIONABLE – Daniel Amartey (ankle)


Projected lineups

Man United: De Gea – Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young – Matic, McTominay, Mata – James, Rashford, Lingard

Leicester: Schmeichel – Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell – Ndidi, Maddison, Tielemans, Albrighton, Barnes – Vardy


What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on Maguire’s arrival: “I’m sure he’s looking forward to playing against his old team, but now he’s here, he’s going to be a big part of the future of this club. That’s why we spent the money we did on him. … I think he’s been brilliant [since signing]. I think he’s come into the dressing room and been a leader. He’s also obviously a leader on the pitch, you can see that. He is definitely a character and a personality that can be a captain of a big club, yeah, and he’s a leader in the dressing room – by performances, presence, stature and behavior.”

Brendan Rodgers, on Maguire’s departure: “I text him now and then and wish him the best when he plays with England. He’s a remarkable guy and a fantastic player. He’s a remarkable guy and a fantastic player. His behavior typified him as a man. It was so difficult for him and right the way through, his behavior was exemplary. He’s a good guy and you can see he’s made them better.”


Prediction

United’s home dominance — or, lack thereof — is perhaps the greatest difference between the Sir Alex Ferguson era and every iteration of United since his retirement in 2013. No one is afraid to go to Old Trafford anymore. United went 10W-6D-3L in league games at Old Trafford last season. In Ferguson’s final season, they went 16W-0D-3L en route to the PL title. Leicester are one of the few sides without a win at Old Trafford in that period. Saturday represents a golden opportunity with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial ruled out through injuries. Leicester get their win, 1-0.

Preview: Man City v. Leicester City

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  • Man City going for 13th-straight win
  • Leicester have 1 defeat in last 7
  • Man City 2 points behind leaders Liverpool

Manchester City’s season pretty much comes to down to this game. Pep Guardiola‘s side host Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and a win would see them take a one-point lead at the top of the table heading into the final day of the Premier League season.

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Leicester have been in great form under new manager Brendan Rodgers and the former Liverpool boss could do his side a huge favor ahead of the season finale on Sunday, while the Foxes are also trying to seal an unlikely seventh-place finish. With City heading to Brighton on the final day and Liverpool hosting Wolves, Leicester taking points off Man City seems like Liverpool’s best remaining hope of winning the title.

In team news Man City are without Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne, while Leicester are without Daniel Amartey and Matty James.


What they’re saying…

Pep Guardiola on the title battle with Liverpool: “Arriving at this stage, two games left with 92 points, after 100 points last season, that is the most satisfaction I’ve had as a manager. It’s not easy, honestly, and the players did it again. I would not say that 100 points was bad and that we are not satisfied with what we did last season but, at the same time, we were seven points behind (earlier this season). You give credit for the titles and how huge our rival is. In my career as a manager, I played against incredible sides and there are two that were ‘wow’. One is the Barcelona of Luis Enrique with Neymar, (Lionel) Messi and (Luis) Suarez in front. The other is this Liverpool. I think they’re the best two sides I’ve faced as a manager.”

Brendan Rodgers on red-hot Jamie Vardy: “Well he does (strike fear into opponents) there’s no getting away from that. When I was preparing a team to play against him you just knew you’ve got to be really careful against him, because if you don’t counter-press the game well and there’s space to play that pass, he’s going to hurt you. And he’s a goalscorer. If you watch him and see his ability to score a goal, and his threat, you’ll always be mindful of it. But that’s the Premier League − top players, top strikers − and you’re always having to find a way to nullify that. But it’s absolutely brilliant to have him on your side!”


Prediction

Leicester will make this very tough for Man City, and their threat on the counter will scare the life out of Guardiola. That said, City have been grinding out results in recent weeks and with this squad knowing two more wins seals the title, there will be an extra bit of determination. Man City to win 3-1 thanks to a late flurry of goals.

Naby Keita groin injury to sideline him for two months

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Naby Keita‘s groin problem picked up in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal loss to Barcelona is as bad as feared, and will add the 24-year-old to the growing list of big names set to miss the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with late season injuries.

Keita was forced off in the 24th minute of Wednesday’s match at the Camp Nou, and on Friday Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp confirmed his midfielder suffered a torn adductor muscle that will keep him out of action for two months.

“It is a high grade adductor injury where the tendon is ruptured, which keeps him out for at least, I would say two months,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Newcastle on Saturday. “So bad news for us obviously but bad news for Guinea as well, because Africa Cup of Nations is coming up.”

Keita has become a key player for the Guinea national team, a regular in the squad since his introduction in qualifying for the 2015 AFCON tournament. He has missed just six matches since his debut in September of 2014, but will now be forced out of this summer’s tournament which begins on June 22. Guinea has been drawn into Group A with Nigeria, Madagascar, Burundi.

“[Keita’s injury is] not a really good moment, but it happened. Sometimes football and life aren’t too nice, but yeah, very serious,” Klopp said.

He joins a growing list of important players who have picked up late-season injuries that will keep them out of the competition, including Manchester United and Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly and Leicester City’s Ghanan midfielder Daniel Amartey.