“Happy Mondays are a Manchester band, aren’t they?” asks Peter Oh. Indeed they were. “Didn’t they have a song called Lazyitis?” They did. Continue. “I expect that Pep’s boys will too motivated to suffer from that tonight, but speaking as someone who strongly prefers Liverpool to finish top, a timely bout of Cityitis would make this the happiest of Mondays!”
To judge from my inbox, Leicester appear to have a lot of well-wishers this evening.
Brendan Rodgers has a chat:
We’ve been playing very well. Obviously our last result, we played well, deserved the win. It’s a great game to be involved in, and we come here to get a result.
When you play against Manchester City you’ve got to be able to defend well. You’ll have the ball for less time than against other teams, so concentration’s important. And then you need that little bit of luck, and you need the quality. We’ve got the quality. The players come with no fear, but they expect it’ll be a very tough game.
We’ve got a lot of really talented players. We’ve got to play quickly through the press, and then there’s space. We’ve talked about it a lot this week, and we hope we can take that into the game.
“Is all the talk of City slipping up simply engineered to keep the title race interesting, as another City procession would be boring?” wonders Michael Gibson. “Before each match the rhetoric is all about what the other team might do, how dangerous they can be etc. Totally ignoring the fact that this is the best Premier League team ever! It’s been in City’s hands for ages. Realistically, surely no one expects Leicester to get anything off a City team at home and on a twelve match winning streak?”
Well, not really, but a) it’s a funny old game, etc and so forth; b) we’ve had two days since Liverpool’s game. What else has there been to talk about?
“I know I’m going a bit all-in with this one, but I’d suggest that Jamie Vardy may be the most underrated player in Premier League history,” says Gary Naylor. “This week, he would have made the starting XI of any side except possibly Manchester City.”
He’s absolutely great, though I really don’t think a hugely-admired, title-winning, internationally-recognised, goal-scoring centre-forward can possibly make the “most underrated player” list, which will surely be full of full-backs and holding midfielders. Denis Irwin for No1, maybe? Unless he’s disqualified for excess medal-snaffling, or for being called underrated too frequently?
“I think the first time I ever watched City play away was at Leicester,” writes Geoff. “It would have been around 1958, and I seem to remember that Leicester won 8-4!! Those were the days. I can’t see twelve goals tonight, though. Can you?”
a) Yes, it was February 1958. “One needed a comptometer rather than a pencil with which to keep track of events,” the Guardian wrote. “At one period a spectator collapsed and was removed from the arena. By the time the little procession had completed the circuit of the ground, three more goals had been added and the stretcher-bearers and patient showed understandable reluctance to quit the scene.”
Pep Guardiola talks:
Two games left. So, we have to take six points. The first three is today. Then we will see. The quality they have, a lot of quality in the middle. The full-backs, they are so, so strong going forward. Good keeper experience. We’ll see if we can control it and react well. Vardy? It’s difficult to control him. His movement, his runs in behind, are one of the best in the world. We have to try to play our game. We’ll see what’s going on. We need two more wins. Every game is different, every opponent has its own quality. We want to do our best in the last two games.
Here are tonight’s line-ups. Phil Foden, as you can see, starts for the home side:
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, Silva, Gundogan, Foden, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling. Subs: Danilo, Stones, Sane, Mahrez, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus, Muric.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, Albrighton, Tielemans, Choudhury, Maddison, Vardy. Subs: Morgan, Gray, Iheanacho, Ward, Barnes, Mendy, Fuchs.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Manchester City’s final-day visit to Brighton might not be a proverbial walk in the proverbial park, if the Seagulls’ display at Arsenal yesterday was anything to go by (although Arsenal are, at present, rubbish):
Interesting statistic: Manchester City and Leicester have played 117 times. Of those games, only one was played in May. That’s compared with 14 games in April, 15 in March and a massive 27 – twenty-seven – games in January!
Here’s Jamie Jackson’s match report from May 2017:
Ding ding ding! Seconds out, round 37!
Right then, let’s not take anything for granted. Leicester have, after all, beaten Manchester City once already this season, and drawn with them in the League Cup (well, they lost but only on penalties). And since Brendan Rodgers’ appointment Leicester have been transformed into the third best team in the Premier League. But since losing to Leicester at the King Power Stadium back in December Manchester City have taken 48 out of a possible 51 points. They last faltered at Newcastle back in January, 12 consecutive victories and an aggregate score of 27-3 ago. If they win tonight and at Brighton on Sunday, they will be league champions and thoroughly deserving champions they will be. If they don’t – and eagle-eyed football fans might have noticed this – Liverpool lie in wait. Given the champions’ extraordinary form and ability a routine home win would appear likely, but pressure, nerves, stress and also Leicester might have an impact too.
Anyway, welcome. Here’s Pep Guardiola on why the English top flight is “the toughest league”: