Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City
Easter Saturday in the Premier League and English football’s top prize is ever closer to being back in the hands of Manchester City for the third time in four seasons.
That was not in doubt, whatever the result at the King Power Stadium in this Easter Saturday encounter in the East Midlands.
However, the style and swagger which City showed in producing more Premier League 2021 highlights – including two goals without reply in the second half – was a further indication of why it’s only a matter of time before the title is sewn up.
Highlights of the game
Both sides rang the changes from their last league outing. Defender Daniel Amartey made his seventh top-flight start of the season – one of two changes from the Leicester side that last started a Premier League game last month.
Marc Albrighton also returned while Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu, who both were in the team in the 5-0 win over Sheffield United in mid-March, dropped out. Midfielder James Maddison was also back on the bench following a hip problem.
For the visitors, legendary striker Sergio Aguero – who will leave the club at the end of the season – was handed a starting place in one of four changes from City’s last league match.
In came Kyle Walker, footballer of the year Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho and former Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez, with John Stones, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Ferran Torres all on a bench which included Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden – has a club side ever had such strength as they chase an unprecedented feat?
Leicester, vying to complete a league double over City for the first time since the 1986-87 season (a campaign in which both clubs were relegated), knew the task they were up against and only an offside flag prevented Fernandinho from netting a fifth-minute opener.
When de Bruyne rattled the crossbar with a freekick midway through the half, Leicester may have thought fortune was on their side.
Had another offside flag not denied Jamie Vardy, played through by Ayoze Perez, on the stroke of half-time, the SBOTOP Premier League 2021 betting odds could have been in for a shock.
As it was, City continued to control spells and just before the hour, Mahrez had a shot punched out by Kasper Schmeichel and, as the ball came out to Benjamin Mendy, the left-back stepped inside a weak challenge and bent the ball into the bottom corner.
When a delicious pass from de Bruyne took out half the home defence and found Jesus, the Brazilian squared it to substitute Sterling who showed great composure to sidestep his marker and play the ball back to the frontman who stabbed the ball over the line. Game over.
Leicester did not play badly but it takes a special side to stop the superpower of Manchester City.
The Foxes’ hopes of playing in the Champions League for the second time in six seasons are still very much in their own hands.
City’s hopes of making history are very much in theirs.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won 26 of their past 27 matches in all competitions, including a club-record 15 consecutive away fixtures.
City have conceded just eight away goals in the Premier League this season, while the Citizens have won each of their last nine away league games by an aggregate score of 24-3.
City have kept more clean sheets (28) and conceded fewer goals (26) in all competitions this season than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues.
Mendy has scored two goals in his last six Premier League appearances, after failing to score in his first 39 games in the competition.
Jesus has five goals in his six Premier League games against Leicester.
Sterling now has 50 Premier League assists to his name.
This was Vardy’s 300th league appearance for Leicester, during which he has scored 135 league goals.
Leicester’s last top-flight victory against a side who began the day top of the table came at Manchester United in January 1998.
They are winless in 16 subsequent Premier League games against the league leaders, losing 14.
The Foxes have lost seven home league matches this season – Everton are the only top-half side with a worse record.
Leicester have another important encounter next weekend as they travel to high-flying West Ham (April 11). That is followed the following weekend by an FA Cup semi-final against Southampton.
City’s programme is more relentless with Borussia Dortmund the visitors to the Etihad Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday (April 6). Leeds are then the visitors in the league next Saturday lunchtime.
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