Manchester City will see their Premier League clash with Leicester City on Saturday as the perfect opportunity to reassert themselves in a topsy-turvy season.
10/11 December 2016
Match Day 15
Kick-off: 01H30 HKT
Venue: King Power Stadium
Referee: M. Oliver
Assistants: J. Collin, S. Bennett
Fourth official: A. Marriner
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Leicester City 73 24 18 31
Manchester City 73 31 18 24
Manchester City 1-3 Leicester City 10/12/16 (Premier League)
Manchester City goalscorers: S. Auguero (87′)
Leicester City goalscorers: R. Huth (3′, 60′), R. Mahrez (48′)
Players to watch:
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 9, 2016
With Sergio Aguero serving a ban, Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho will continue to lead the line for City. The 20-year-old has been something of a revelation for the club since making his debut against Watford in August 2015, with five goals already this season. But apart from being lethal in front of the poles, Iheanacho, with a large frame and willingness to put himself about, makes him a handful for any defence, as he frees up space for teammates to exploit.
Riyad Mahrez has, along with his teammates, struggled to rekindle his form of last season. But with his natural ability, he remains a threat with his willingness to unlock tight defences. And City’s back four is anything but tight, with the side prone to errors this season. He will need to be at his mercurial best though to frighten City, and alleviate the pressure they are expected to face, with the likes of Iheanacho running at them.
Team form and manager quotes:
'@LCFC remain a very good team.'
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 9, 2016
Claudio Ranieri’s side have been a shadow of the side that stormed to the Premier League title last season, and the defence of their crown has been disastrous.
Coming into this fixture, in 16th place, just two points clear of the relegation zone, and with one win from their last eight games in all competitions, the Italian manager has urged his squad to show some more determination.
“I want players to play for the team, to be strong, to fight and to be competitive – I want no more. If you lose this how can you win?
“Not even the big players can win without fight. That is football.
“Last season we won because some big teams didn’t fight as well as us and now we want that back, not to win the title but to defend the title and not be in the relegation zone.”
After a barnstorming start to his Manchester City career, Pep Guardiola has seen his side struggle for consistency over the past few months.
A run of 10 wins in all competitions came to a swift end with a 3-3 draw with Celtic in the Champions League and a 2-0 loss to Spurs in the league in October.
Since then City have managed just four victories, and come into this tie on the back of a 3-1 loss to leaders Chelsea before being held to a 1-1 draw with Celtic on Tuesday.
Ahead of this clash, Guardiola told a press conference: “I am a coach for the results of course, but I want to feel that my team is playing well. Sometimes you deserve to win and you’re able to but sometimes that happens.
“Always I am focused of the way we play, not always the result. If we play how we played against Chelsea or Celtic we are going to do good things.”
He added: “What I saw with Leicester they remain a very good team, I have a lot of respect for Claudio – what happened last season was amazing, in the way they did it and what they did.
“Sometimes – now they are in UCL – they were first in their group stage, maybe the players were so focused on UCL, sometimes you can’t focus as much on Premier League.”
Kasper Schmeichel is close to a return from his hand injury after being pictured in training with The Foxes. Nampalys Mendy only returned from injury in midweek and will not start, while Danny Drinkwater is still serving a suspension.
Manchester City trio Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are all serving suspensions but Guardiola can welcome Raheem Sterling back after missing the last two matches with a knee injury.
Guardiola said: “Sterling is much better, yesterday he trained good, hopefully he’ll be fit for the game. Fabian (Delph) trained yesterday, all of them are good, no problem.”