Following victories over Wolves and Bournemouth, Manchester City will host Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester as both teams look to continue their winning starts to the season. The Foxes have scored seven goals in their first two games, however, despite their attacking prowess, they have looked less than stellar defensively, and City will look to exploit this weakness at the Etihad on Sunday.
After resting the bulk of the first team against Bournemouth, Pep Guardiola shall be determined to ensure that his side win their third successive game of the season. Leicester have been in fine form going forward with Jamie Vardy starting the season well, while Harvey Barnes has also been particularly impressive.
Leicester’s defence, however, is a different story. In the Foxes’ last league game, Burnley found the back of the net twice, and were unexpectedly allowed 16 shots by the Leicester backline. Given that Manchester City are far more efficient going forward than Burnley, Kasper Schmeichel looks to be in for a busy Sunday evening.
Regarding team news for Pep Guardiola's squad, the Blues still have many players missing. Gabriel Jesus is reportedly set to be out of action for a few weeks after picking up an injury against Wolves, Aymeric Laporte is unlikely to feature although he should return shortly, whilst Nicolas Otamendi is also unlikely to feature after allegedly missing the Bournemouth game due to “niggles”.
Sergio Agüero is again absent as he is still recovering from knee surgery and will hopefully return next month. Ilkay Gundogan remains unavailable following a positive Covid-19 test, whilst Oleksandr Zinchenko and Portuguese stars Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo are both nursing injuries and will not feature.
Here’s how we think Manchester City will line up on Sunday...
In goal, Ederson will surely start and the Brazilian stopper will hope to claim his first clean sheet of the campaign. Jamie Vardy beat Ederson the last time he came to the Etihad and the Englishman will be looking to do so again. Leicester have managed 13 shots on target so far this season, more than any other side after gameweek two and Ederson will need to be at his best to deny the pungent Foxes.
After captaining Manchester City to victory on Thursday night, we expect Kyle Walker to retain his place at right-back. Walker has been in fine form since the return of football in June, but he will again need to be at his very best on Sunday as he will face a tough battle against the in-form Harvey Barnes. The ever-improving forward came to prominence on Leicester’s left flank last season and has recorded an assist and attempted 10 shots in his two league games this campaign. However, Walker’s experience and quality should be enough to subdue the Leicester midfielder.
At left centre-back, we expect Nathan Aké to return to the starting line-up after missing the clash with former side Bournemouth in midweek, and we expect the Dutchman to again be accompanied by John Stones. This pairing seemed to work against Wolves and with both players being rested on Thursday, we anticipate that the partnership will return against Leicester.
At left-back, we believe that Benjamin Mendy will return to the starting line-up. The French international played well following his introduction against Bournemouth, but noticeably struggled to contain Adama Traore at Molineux last Monday. With Cancelo unavailable until mid-October, Mendy will need to be at his best in the upcoming fixtures to ensure that he is not displaced by Cancelo upon his return.
In midfield, we believe that Pep Guardiola will again opt for the Rodri-Fernandinho double pivot that was particularly effective against Wolves, and provided De Bruyne with more freedom to express himself. Arguably, Fernandinho is more effective than Gundogan when the double pivot is utilised as he can better compensate for Rodri’s shortcomings and appears to be less hesitant to play the ball forward, as opposed to Gundogan’s safety-first approach.
Alongside Rodri and Fernandinho in midfield, we of course expect Kevin De Bruyne to feature. The Belgian was typically excellent against Wolves and the presence of both Fernandinho and Rodri provided less defensive responsibilities and allowed him to influence City’s attacking play more effectively. Leicester have looked susceptible defensively this season, and with Leicester enforcer Wilfred Ndidi set to miss the game, I expect De Bruyne to run the show on Sunday evening.
Now for the front three. On the right side of the attacking trio, we believe that after impressing against Bournemouth in midweek, Riyad Mahrez will start his against his former side. James Justin has been filling in for the injured Ricardo Pereira this season and whilst Justin is a capable right-back, Mahrez often thrives against inexperienced full-backs and will look to terrorise the young defender on Sunday.
On the left flank, we expect Raheem Sterling to again start. The England star looked threatening against Wolves on Monday and spoon-fed Foden for his first goal of the season before making way for Ferran Torres late in the game. In recent years, Sterling has established himself as one of the most prolific wingers in the league and will be eager to register his first goal of the season against Leicester’s unconvincing backline.
Finally, we expect Phil Foden to play as a false nine on Sunday afternoon. The England international impressed against both Wolves and then Bournemouth in midweek and so, we believe Foden deserves to retain his place in the side. With Gabriel Jesus unavailable for several weeks, some City fans have called for Liam Delap to start against Leicester following his impressive debut, however, we believe that it is much more likely that Pep Guardiola will opt to start a player more familiar with his system.
Substitutes: Zack Steffen, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Eric Garcia, Tommy Doyle, Felix Nmecha, Ferran Torres, Liam Delap.
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