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Preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the Premier League clash between Leicester City and Manchester City on Boxing Day.
By , Senior Reporter | 6mo

Leicester City head into their Boxing Day encounter with Manchester City on the back of a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Man City find themselves four points adrift of leaders Liverpool after suffering a 3-2 defeat at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

Leicester City

There have been reports in recent days which have suggested that Leicester are considering parting company with manager Claude Puel, with the squad's players having allegedly grown frustrated with the Frenchman's tactics.

That speculation came at a time when Leicester had registered just one point from three games in the Premier League and had been eliminated from the EFL Cup at the quarter-final stage.

However, Leicester showed against Chelsea on Saturday that they remain capable of producing high-level performances as they became the first visiting team to register a win at Stamford Bridge all season.

The Foxes had some luck on their way to keeping a clean sheet, but it was a result which can act as the catalyst towards an improved second half of the campaign as the club bids for European qualification.

There are still issues in the final third with Jamie Vardy and James Maddison netting the bulk of the goals this season, but Puel's side possess the fifth-best defensive record in the league and the foundations are there for the club to finish in at least seventh spot.

A home fixture with Manchester City is not ideal after such an effort in West London, but it least lifts the pressure off Puel ahead of the home showdown with Cardiff City at the end of the week.

Puel will be aware that the sack remains a possibility at a time when Leicester will look to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window, and the club's hierarchy must decide whether the former Southampton man is still their long-term option in the dugout.

Nothing will get decided over Christmas due to Leicester's efforts at Chelsea, however, and Puel will know that any kind of a positive result against the defending champions on Boxing Day will only boost his chances of keeping his job.

Recent form: DWDLLW
Recent form (all competitions): WDLLDW

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola would have been aware that maximum points against Crystal Palace, Leicester and Southampton would have put his side in the perfect position to pile the pressure on Liverpool ahead of their clash at the Etihad Stadium on January 3.

However, the shock setback at home to the Eagles has put some daylight between the two clubs, and the pressure is now on City to provide a positive response ahead of their meeting with the Merseyside giants.

Guardiola has had to deal with a number of injury problems in recent weeks, but the defeat to Palace was partly City's own doing and the Spaniard will be concerned that complacency had started to become an issue for his players.

The humbling defeat means that it will no longer be the case, but two defeats in three outings in the top flight has resulted in City losing all of the momentum generated from a 15-match undefeated streak.

There were still some positives to take from the weekend with both Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero being able to play an active role from the bench, and the pair will likely be thrust back into the spotlight on Wednesday.

De Bruyne has spent just 126 minutes on the pitch in the Premier League this season, and the feeling is that the Belgian playmaker will have to play a regular role if City are to regain their league title.

Guardiola will be quick to allude to the fact that the season is yet to reach its halfway point, however, and there will be the understanding that beating Liverpool at the Etihad in the first week of 2019 will change the complexion of the title race.

City also have a favourable run of games throughout the rest of January, encounters which will feel easier if maximum points can be registered against Leicester and Southampton.

Recent form: WWWLWL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWDL

Team News

De Bruyne and Aguero are likely to be thrust into the action with the duo having built up their match fitness over the past week after injury.

Fernandinho will be assessed after picking up a thigh problem, while David Silva remains a doubt despite having returned to training after a similar issue.

Oleksandr Zinchenko could be recalled at left-back with Fabian Delph being used in midfield, and Riyad Mahrez is in line for a start against his former club.

Puel is unlikely to make many alterations after the win at Chelsea, although Vardy is likely to be assessed due to a ongoing groin problem.

Demarai Gray may be recalled in place of Mark Albrighton, but the defence and midfield could remain the same.

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Choudhury, Mendy, Ndidi; Maddison, Gray, Vardy

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Delph, Gundogan; Sterling, De Bruyne, Mahrez; Aguero

Head To Head

The clash on Boxing Day will represent the 117th competitive contest between the two clubs, with Man City registering 58 wins in comparison to 29 victories for Leicester.

The Foxes recorded a 4-2 triumph over City in December 2016, but Guardiola's side have since prevailed in each of the last five matches.

However, Man City required a penalty shootout to get the better of Leicester when the teams met in the EFL Cup last week.

We say: Leicester City 1-3 Manchester City

Guardiola is aware that his Manchester City side cannot afford a second surprise defeat in quick succession, and we expect last year's champions to produce a much-improved display. Leicester will likely adopt similar tactics to the strategy which worked against Chelsea, but City pose much more of a threat in the final third.

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last updated article - 2018-12-31 21:13:35:
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