Beginning of the Business End - Leicester City vs Manchester City Preview
Leicester City vs Manchester City. FA Cup Semi-Finalist vs FA Cup Semi-Finalist. 1st vs 3rd. Runaway leaders vs Champions League hopefuls. Guardiola vs Rodgers. Will Leicester do the double over the Champions in waiting, or will City get their revenge?
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant Referees: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Craig Pawson
VAR: Peter Bankes
Assistant VAR: Timothy Wood
City enter this fixture with a lot of pride at stake. They were humiliated earlier on in the season when the Leicester attack ran riot, scoring five goals and winning three penalties in the process.
As everyone will be aware, Ruben Dias had not yet signed for the club at that point and Saturday's hosts are the last Premier League the Portuguese international has yet to face, having only missed one Premier League game since his debut against Leeds United, because of a sickness, which was in the 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in February.
Along with Dias, the rest of the City squad will have a point to prove to Leicester and will hope to get one back at them.
Ederson and co. will not need reminding of the dangerous man that is Jamie Vardy, his most recent hat trick against the Sky Blues meant that he became the first player to score two hat tricks against a side managed by Guardiola.
A couple more unwanted records that were set that day are:
- The first time in 686 games that a Pep Guardiola side has conceded five goals
- The first time a visiting team has scored five goals at the Etihad Stadium in any competition.
You can imagine Pep and his side will be well aware of the results of that performance. Since then, they have only lost two games in all competitions, which was to Jose Mourinho's Spurs, 2-0, in November and most recently Ole Gunnar Soksjaer's Manchester United.
Leicester will know that this City side is far from the one they faced in September. However, the boost of James Maddison returning will offer them great hope if they are to penetrate this City defence, which has only conceded 15 goals in the league since facing them, 28 games ago.
Head to Head:
The history books favour the blue of Manchester much more than the blue of Leicester. The visitors have won an impressive 61 games while losing only 31. The shares have been split equally 29 times.
Following the news of Sergio Aguero's departure at the end of the season, there has been much speculation of who will replace him, when will he be replaced, but also, what does it mean for the rest of the season?
If the City boss cannot guarantee minutes to City's all-time top goal scorer next season, it begs the question, how much of the Argentine will we see for the rest of the season?
The way of the world is that we (people) always find something to moan about, so between now and the end of the season will Guardiola ever release the perfect lineup, that everyone is happy with?
Fortunately, no one was injured on a busy international duty so the Spaniard has a full squad to choose from once again, but City fans will be eager to see off one of their greatest ever players with as much game time as possible, but that means sacrificing the system that deploys a false nine, that has worked so well this year, so which one will it be?
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Jesus
With a Champions League Quarter-Final ahead, Pep will no doubt have that in mind when he picks his starting XI for Saturday.
That is why a fully fit and rested Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus will surely be favourites to start this game, to give the players who had a busy international break, such as Stones, Sterling and Foden, a much-needed rest.
A possible difference is that Aguero is handed his last Premier League appearance against Leicester, in place of Kevin De Bruyne.
However, with Kyle Walker not having his best display in the previous meeting between the two, that could give Guardiola a reason to rest the Englishman and opt for Aleks Zinchenko on the left and Joao Cancelo on the right.
Pep roulette ey, who actually knows what he will do?
What we do know, is that Pep and his side will travel to Leicester for the 17:30 BST kick-off, at the King Power Stadium, on Saturday 3rd April. The game will be live on Sky Sports Main Event.