MANCHESTER CITY host Leicester for Monday Night Football. Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) previews the encounter, picking out his best bets.
Manchester City v Leicester | Monday 6th May 2019, 20:00 | Sky Sports
It’s difficult to set an accurate and engaging scene for this fixture on Monday night without knowing the result from Liverpool’s trip to Newcastle on Saturday night. So I’m going to assume the Merseysiders are back on top of the Premier League – and even if the Reds flop on Tyneside, there’s no reason for City not to be going all-out for maximum points here.
This does represent the most likely fixture where the Citizens could slip up, with Brighton to play last up. Without Champions League commitments, Pep Guardiola’s group have at least been able to rest and prepare in full for the final furlong, although City supporters were understandably nervous with their team’s far-from-dominant display at Burnley last week.
Man City have been relentless in their pursuit of a second successive title since a shock Boxing Day defeat against Leicester. The Citizens have won all bar one of their following 17 league fixtures, although it’s often been more functional than flashy with Guardiola’s all-star cast beating the two-goal handicap on only three occasions in 23 outings.
Immediately, that opens up the opportunity to support Leicester with a +2.5 goal start on the Asian Handicap line at 3/4 (Unibet). Sure, City have the ability to cut loose but their only home defeat in 18 (W17-D0-L1) came against a Crystal Palace side with similar abilities as the Foxes with a preference to play on the counter-attack.
Under Claude Puel, Leicester beat City in December and also held them in the League Cup. Both of those games took place at the King Power, and they have been beaten in three of four trips to The Etihad since 2014/15, but only one of those losses was by more than a two-goal margin, shining further light on the Foxes with a handicap start.
Foxes can make their mark in Manchester
Ultimately, I do expect Man City to justify their stupidly short price with a victory but it’s easy to envisage Leicester making their mark in Manchester. Seven of the past eight meetings between the pair across all competitions since February 2016 have paid out for Both Teams To Score backers and a repeat appeals.
Backing City to win and Both Teams To Score pays a fair enough 6/4 (Betway) and is probably the best way to support Leicester getting on the scoresheet (they've done so in all bar one of their 17 away days this term). The visitors have impressed under Rodgers’ watch with a reinvigorated Jamie Vardy particularly eye-catching ahead of playmaker James Maddison and midfield lynchpin Youri Tielemans.
The trio proved their potential to cause problems in Leicester’s 3-0 rout of Arsenal last time out. A first-half red card for the Gunners played into their hands but even so, the Foxes dominated proceedings and could have won by a wider margin but for a string of fine saves from Arsenal cat Bernd Leno between the sticks.
Vardy can party at a big price
Vardy struck twice against Arsenal to take his tally to 18 goals for the season, 10 of which have arrived in nine matches since Puel left. The former England ace has notched in all bar two of his tussles in that streak and is too big to ignore at 11/1 (Bet365) in the First Goalscorer market, getting a third of the odds anytime when backing him each-way.
Vardy’s record against the Big Six is well documented – 32 goals in 47 matches since 2015/16 when featuring for at least 20 minutes – including 18 in 22 since the start of last season as he’s troubled the scorers in 15 of those 22 contests. The Foxes hitman has five goals in six against Monday night’s opponents alone since 2016/17.