Man City v Leicester: Entertaining Etihad encounter expected

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MANCHESTER CITY host Leicester at The Etihad on Saturday evening. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from the Premier League encounter.

Manchester City v Leicester | Saturday 21st December 2019, 17:30 | Sky Sports

It’s a bumper weekend of Premier League football with some great looking games and Saturday evening's showdown promises to be a mouthwatering match-up. 

Both Manchester City and Leicester progressed to the League Cup semi-finals midweek and having avoided each other in the draw they could well meet again in the final at Wembley. City made a handful of changes as they dispatched a spirited Oxford side on Wednesday; Pep Guardiola was able to rest the likes of Fernandinho, Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Kevin de Bruyne at the Kassam and those key men should be well refreshed.

Leicester too made a few alternations to their side at Goodison Park. Caglar Soyuncu, Youri Tielemans, Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez didn’t feature and the quartet are likely to start on Saturday with Brendan Rodgers likely to field a 4-5-1 formation with runners from midfield helping Jamie Vardy up top.

This pits together two teams that like to dominate possession against each other so one team will have to play a slightly different way. City average 60.9% possession whereas Leicester are fourth-highest with 55.4%. You’d expect City to dominate the ball, particularly being the home team so it will be a different test for Leicester in terms of off the ball discipline. 

Brendan’s balance

One thing I’ve been majorly impressed by this season is the balance of the squad at the King Power. Brendan Rodgers was always going to come into a side stacked with excellent young players but he’s struck gold in terms of getting the right system in place to get the most out of them all. It works individually for the likes of Vardy who isn’t all about chasing down anymore.

Wilfred N’didi has a big role at the base of midfield and in my eyes is the best in the league at breaking up play and kick starting attacks. Distances between every department on the pitch have clearly being worked on which is great credit to the former Swansea and Celtic manager. Everyone knows their role and they’re playing like a top four club.

It’s going to be their biggest test of the season thus far though. They were unlucky at Anfield earlier in the season losing 2-1 in the last-minute – I say unlucky, the Foxes did actually lose the Expected Goals (xG) battle pretty comfortably in that game and it may be in the thoughts of bookmakers who have them priced up as big as 7/1 for this one. 

They certainly have the propensity to score at the Etihad, mind. The Foxes have bagged in 19 of their last 20 fixtures, notching two or more in 14 of their last 15 games in all competitions. Given that Man City have conceded in 11 of their last 12 games then Both Teams To Score has to be a big runner at 13/20 but that’s a bit short to put up so we can chuck in Over 2.5 Goals and get a more backable 5/6 quote (Bet365).

I’m much more inclined to take a goals-based angle ahead of any handicap selection as I think the bookies have priced it up fairly when looking at the respective data of the pair. City still create high quality chances on a regular occurrence and Gabriel Jesus is in good nick and looks the preferred option to Sergio Aguero. 

De Bruyne was superb last week at the Emirates – a Man of the Match performance from the Belgian who racked up two goals and four shots on-target. He could be key here and provide some match-winning magic. Betfair have boosted him to 10/3 for two or more shots on-target and in the form he’s in it has to be worth a wee play. 

He averages three shots per-game in the league this season and has been getting his eye in of late with his last four appearances providing 6, 3, 4 and 5 shots in those individual games. It just looks too big as he’s around a point shorter elsewhere. 

Best Bets

Manchester City v Leicester – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (5/6 Bet365)

Manchester City v Leicester – Kevin de Bruyne to have 2+ shots on-target (10/3 Betfair)

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