Kevin De Bruyne has called on Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League for injured captain Vincent Kompany ahead of Monday’s visit to leaders Leicester City.
Kompany limped off just 10 minutes into his return from a calf injury against Sunderland on Saturday, his withdrawal taking some of the gloss off a 4-1 win over the Black Cats.
With a three-point gap between the sides following Leicester’s 1-0 loss at Liverpool on Boxing Day, victory at the King Power Stadium will lift Manuel Pellegrini’s men above their hosts thanks to superior goal difference.
Arsenal’s 4-0 humbling at the hands of Southampton allowed Leicester to stay top and fixed the damage done in City’s defeat at the Emirates Stadium a week earlier, and another slip-up against AFC Bournemouth would open the door for the 2013-14 champions to lead the league into the New Year.
“We don’t just need to do it for Vincent, but it would be nice to be on top when he comes back,” De Bruyne said.
“Everybody knows how Vincent is. I have known him for seven or eight years in the national team. He is a big character and one of the leaders in this team, so it helps when he is fit.
“But we need to cope without him, even though it is harder.”
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez – who have scored 28 of Leicester’s 37 league goals this term – failed to fire at Anfield and were both withdrawn as Leicester were held goalless for the first time this season.
Ranieri revealed both were struggling for full fitness afterwards, but is hopeful his team will learn from drawing a blank on Merseyside.
He told Leicester’s official website: “It was a good lesson.
“We showed good shape, we defended well and closed the space well, but we need to improve when we want to go straight away and score the goal.
“It was unlucky, but sooner or later our first defeat away could happen. Now we have to clean our minds and focus on another fantastic match.”
The continued absence of Jeffrey Schlupp due to a hamstring injury leaves Ranieri with few pacey attacking options to replace Mahrez or Vardy, while Danny Drinkwater missed the loss at Anfield with a similar problem to the Ghanaian.
Meanwhile, Fernando and Pablo Zabaleta will not be fit to return for City until the meeting with Watford on January 2.
Sergio Aguero could return after being rested against Sunderland but Samir Nasri (hamstring) remains on the sidelines.
Key Opta Stats:
– Leicester City lost both of their league meetings with Man City last season, but they’ve not lost three successive league games against Man City since August 1961.
– Manchester City are unbeaten in their last five league away trips to Leicester City (W3 D2).
– Leicester City have scored in each of their last 14 Premier League home games.
– Manchester City are on a five game winless run away from home in the Premier League (D2 L3); their worst away run in the competition since April 2011 (six away games without a win).
– Manchester City have scored just one goal in their last four Premier League away games.
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