Manchester City return to the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day, the scene of their Carabao Cup quarter-final win earlier this month. This time, it’s a crucial Premier League fixture for the Blues after they slipped up against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
With Liverpool hosting Newcastle at Anfield, a fixture you’d expect them to win, it’s paramount that Pep Guardiola’s men come away from Leicester with three points.
Despite their cup win over the Foxes, City must be focused with Leicester going into this match with the momentum of a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
With very little room for error in the title race, we’re expecting Pep Guardiola to field a strong team for this one, while rotating a little due to the hectic schedule.
David Silva is training again but with Guardiola unsure if he’ll be back for the Christmas period, the safe bet is to assume he won’t be available on Boxing Day. Fernandinho missed the weekend game but his injury didn’t seem serious, so we can only hope he’s back. Vincent Kompany is also due to return any time now.
Longer term absentees are Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy.
Ederson has conceded in his last seven appearances for City, a surprise after the amount of shut-outs he was keeping earlier in the season. He’ll start again between the sticks and will hope for no more Andros Townsend wonder goals beating him.
At the back, we predicted it last time and it didn’t pan out – but surely Danilo is due a start, particularly with Kyle Walker badly out of form and the whole rotate-over-Christmas thing. At left-back, it could be either of Mendy’s substitutes really, and with rotation on Pep’s mind, we’ll go with Oleksandr Zinchenko.
In the heart of defence, it should be the Aymeric Laporte and John Stones combination. City’s defence is much more stable when these two are side-by-side and if Stones isn’t needed to fill in anywhere else, there’s no reason for him to not assume his normal position.
He missed the Palace game but hopefully Fernandinho is good to go. City have an elite squad, but at this moment none are more important than the 33-year-old Brazilian midfielder, for whom there is just no suitable stand-in. We expect him to be joined by Kevin De Bruyne, who made a big impact off the bench against Palace and should start with three points needed. The last midfield spot is a bit of a toss-up between Bernardo and Gundogan. With Bernardo well below his best at the moment, maybe it’s time to rest him, so we’ll go with Ilkay Gundogan after his weekend goal.
Going forward, Pep could rest one of his wingers but after Riyad Mahrez’s performance in the cup game against his former club, he might hesitate on that. We’re going with Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling again, with Mahrez to come in against Southampton. The Algerian has shown flashes of his true talent in recent months, but since his excellent performance against Watford has been ineffective.
Up-front, Gabriel Jesus has had three successive starts and surely it’s time for Sergio Aguero to return to the XI after his injury. City need Aguero in peak form and banging the goals in, and game time is required to achieve that.
That leaves the bench, with our guess being: Aro Muric, Kyle Walker, Fabian Delph, Nicolas Otamendi, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus.