Manchester City

'Formidable Man City Hard To Pin Down'

An intriguing battle between two high quality sides is in prospect when Leicester City meet Manchester City on Saturday evening, according to Mark Ogden, senior writer at ESPN.
More on this story...

- Leicester City and Manchester City face off at King Power Stadium on Saturday (5:30pm kick-off)
- ESPN's Mark Odgen spoke to LCFC TV to preview the Premier League clash between the league leaders and third-placed Leicester
- City's quality means it will be a strong side whoever Pep Guardiola selects in his starting XI, Ogden believes
- The journalist adds that Leicester's good record against teams at the top of the table should not be discounted

Manchester City, who announced the end of season departure of their all-time record goalscorer Sergio Agüero earlier this week, will arrive on Filbert Way for the 5:30pm kick-off holding a 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League table

While the formidable Citizens have won 25 of their last 26 fixtures in all competitions, reaching the Carabao Cup Final and an Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final in the process, Ogden is confident that it is shaping up to be a really exciting contest at King Power Stadium.

Leicester's own good form - a three-game winning run - and the timing of the fixture, following on from the recent break from action, could count in the Foxes' favour as they look to reduce the gap to the league leaders.

"I don't think Leicester need to clutch at straws," he commented. "They put five past City back at the start of the season so they'll have confidence that they can do it. Leicester have got a great record against the bigger teams.

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Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola's side have scored a league high 64 goals so far this term.

"After the international break it's always a good chance to get at the bigger sides because they've got players all over the world. City's South American players have been at home this time but I do think this is a good time to catch City.

"They've not had a full 10 days with Pep Guardiola, they've not been training with their team-mates and Jamie Vardy has had a couple of weeks off so Leicester have got a lot of things in their favour."

The visitors continue to compete on four fronts, with the UEFA Champions League knockout stage returning in midweek. The Citizens face Borussia Dortmund at Etihad Stadium in the first leg of their quarter-final tie and they could have one eye on that contest, Ogden believes.

He explained: "They've got the first leg of the Borussia Dortmund game on Tuesday so you might see that Guardiola does make a few changes for that because they are so far ahead in the league that it would take a ridiculous collapse for them not to win it.

Rúben Dias has been a huge signing at the back, he's getting a lot of plaudits quite rightly. He has come in and people like John Stones had been written off for a while but Dias has made Stones a better defender.

Mark Ogden ESPN senior writer

"But because Leicester are close challengers, I do think that Pep will probably try to get this game out of the way first before they start looking around to rest players in the league. This could be the last game that we see a full strength City.

"After the Leicester game they've got Dortmund twice, they've got Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi-Final and Tottenham in the Carabao Cup Final so if they're going to win the quadruple, the next two weeks are massive.

"City want to win everything but I think they would happily surrender the Premier League to win the Champions League. It's the one trophy they brought in Pep Guardiola for and that they are desperate to win.

"They've won everything else several times now so it's (the Champions League) the holy grail. It's a good year to win it, they are probably the favourites."

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Former Fox Riyad Mahrez scored when the two sides met at Etihad Stadium earlier in the season.

Sunday's visitors have kept more clean sheets than any other side this term (16) and summer signing Rúben Dias has played a crucial role in City's impressive defensive statistics. The former Benfica centre-back has also played the most total passes in the Premier League this season (2,306) and continues to be a consistent performer alongside England international John Stones.

"It's hard to pin City down because you can't pick the team," Ogden admitted. "Rúben Dias has been a huge signing at the back, he's getting a lot of plaudits quite rightly. He has come in and people like John Stones had been written off for a while but Dias has made Stones a better defender. Stones and Dias have become a formidable defensive partnership.

"The danger man could be [Kevin] De Bruyne or it could be Phil Foden, we've all been waiting for him to burst onto the scene for the last four years and he's definitely done it now. He's a first team player and going forward he's going to be City's superstar.

"It could be Bernardo Silva or it could be Gabriel Jesus, who has had an up and down season. It could even be Sergio Agüero, he's fit again now and will want to go out with a bang. Raheem Sterling is another one. There's so many players in the City side who can cause a problem and whoever he picks it will be very, very strong."

All times BST.

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