Leicester look a great bet to strike early at the Etihad
Flying Foxes can catch City on the hop
Sky Sports 1, 12.30pm Saturday
Five places and 26 points separate Manchester City and Leicester in the Premier League, though a form table over the past ten matches is more revealing in a match where the champions have been written off by bookmakers.
Over the last ten games, Leicester are third behind only Spurs and Chelsea with 22 points, having accrued five more points over the same period than Manchester City.
With nothing tangible to play for, Craig Shakespeare’s men appear to be playing with a spring in their step and that makes them a dangerous outfit at the Etihad, where they won 3-1 last February.
They aren’t the worst 12-1 shots around this weekend.
High points were few and far between in the first half of the season yet a 4-2 win against City at the King Power in December was one of the better ones.
Jamie Vardy bagged a hat-trick that day and looks to have rediscovered some of his zip in recent weeks. He’s scoring goals again and isn’t the only member of the Foxes’ squad enjoying himself since the departure of Claudio Ranieri.
They won’t be travelling to Manchester in full health. It looks like a new back two is required and Danny Drinkwater is missing from central midfield.
But two men who have been covering themselves in glory in recent weeks are centre-back Yohan Benalouane and midfielder Wilfred Ndidi who have emerged from the fringes to take key roles in Leicester’s resurgence. To that end, the absences of Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Drinkwater shouldn’t be overstated.
And it isn’t as though City’s pursuit of a top-four spot has been convincing in recent weeks. Champions League and FA Cup exits at the hands of Monaco and Arsenal have come in the midst of a league run of just three wins in nine.
They were impressive last time out against a Crystal Palace side who, admittedly, were an absolute shambles, but they have failed to win three of their last five at home in the league. Indeed, they’ve won only nine of 17 at home this season, albeit with just one loss.
And Leicester, it has to be conceded, have lost 12 of 18 on the road though, as we know, they resemble a different team under their new boss.
The best illustration of that is up front. Under Ranieri this season they were averaging just under a goal a game. Under Shakespeare they are averaging 2.1.
In this successful ten-game run they have also scored 12 first-half goals so the 21-10 that they net in the first 45 minutes doesn’t look a bad bet, either.
City have had defensive issues all season long and while the return of Vincent Kompany is being hailed as a triumph, they still cough up chances for the opposition.
Leicester first-half goal
1pt 21-10 Betfair
1pt 12-1 BoyleSports
Bet on this match at Soccerbase.com
Keeper Claudio Bravo joins Ilkay Gundogan on the sidelines. Sergio Aguero and John Stones will have late fitness tests.
Danny Drinkwater and Wes Morgan are out. Robert Huth (ankle) is a major doubt.
Leicester have scored at least two goals in eight of their last ten matches.