Leicester City vs. Manchester City Predictions
Last Time Out:
Leicester lost 2-0 to Arsenal; Manchester City beat Bournemouth 2-1.
Manchester City edged Leicester City 1-0 on February 22 at King Power Stadium in Leicester.
About the Matchup:
Two of the top five sides in last year's Premier League face off in an early matchup that sees one side far less fit than its opponent. Leicester has gotten off to an excellent start by taking maximum points in its first two games. However, the Foxes haven't played a real contender for the title yet, which means that we're still waiting to see what Leicester is capable of doing. Leicester's collapse from last year is still fresh in everyone's mind, and the general belief is a wait-and-see approach to taking them seriously.
On the other hand, Manchester City wants to get its title back but has to focus on getting itself healthy first. The Sky Blues have been ravaged by both injuries and COVID-19, leaving them with little depth available. City is still a very talented side and has what might be the best starting 11 in the Premier League, but are they fit enough to hold off a Leicester squad that might see an opportunity?
Scouting Leicester City:
The Foxes have been longing to find a partner for Jamie Vardy up top for some time, and they might finally have their man in Harvey Barnes. Barnes has spent most of the past three seasons bouncing around the Championship, as Leicester has no place to play him as a teenager and sent him on loan to lower-league clubs so that he could get some experience. Barnes is now 22, and Leicester believes he's ready to assume the position as Vardy's running mate. He got his year off to a fine start in the first two matches of the season, scoring a goal in a rather comfortable win over Burnley.
Whether Barnes is really ready for this level remains to be seen, and that's where things get dicey. Vardy draws the attention of most sides in the Premier League because he's always a threat to score. Opponents know it, and they STILL cannot do anything about keeping Vardy off the scoresheet. Burnley was able to do it, but it's a somewhat surprising experience for a team to try not to let one star beat them and end up losing to them anyway — which Burnley did.
Scouting Manchester City:
It's probably a good thing that there won't be fans in the seats at the Etihad on Sunday. If there were, Pep Guardiola might have to use one of them as a substitute in the second half. At this point, Manchester City is basically the San Francisco 49ers of the Premier League: well-known brand, finished second last season, high expectations, absolutely crippled by injuries in the first two weeks of the season.
The difference between the 49ers and the Sky Blues is that City's injuries have gone after its depth rather than its stars. Unlike San Francisco, which is down virtually all of its starters, City's starters have mostly been able to stay healthy, with the exception of Sergio Aguero. But the Sky Blues are down to just 13 healthy senior players, meaning they've had to resort to their young academy players as substitutes. However, the problem is that if things do start going badly for City, Guardiola has no real reliable move he can make to get fresh legs on the pitch and change up the match for City.
As a result, Guardiola really couldn't get his stars a lot of rest. He had to bring on Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to rescue the match against Bournemouth, which meant nobody really had the entire time to rest and recover. If City doesn't put this away early, it could become a war of fatigue, which greatly favors Leicester City.
Dan's Score Prediction:
City just wants to get a win and get out, and I think they'll even be happy with a draw after dealing with multiple absences this week. I can see Leicester pushing to try to take advantage, but I think this one is going to end with the sides on terms. I'd expect this match to start out with a City goal before Leicester is able to equalize late in the second half.
Given that information, it shouldn't be a surprise as to what I'm picking. I like this match to feature a couple of goals, but I think City will eventually run out of gas and lose Vardy, leading to the draw. As such, I'm taking a +1050 correct score of 1-1.