Leicester City will come up against a team of “magicians” when they visit Manchester City in their top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, according to manager Claudio Ranieri.
The Italian has guided Leicester to the Premier League summit against all odds this season – the Foxes sitting three points clear of their hosts heading into the weekend.
Ranieri has urged caution ahead of what promises to be one of Leicester’s toughest fixtures of the season, but encouraged fans to keep believing his team can defy all expectations and clinch the title.
“Every match is the biggest test for us,” he said. “It’s not important the name of our opponent, it’s the way we play.
“Our fans continue to dream. That is what we want. We know it’s a tough match but from now there will only be tough matches.
“It’s an open game as they want to win. We want to win too, so it’s open. Both teams want to win, so maybe it will be a draw!
“Manchester City have too many dangerous players. You can play a perfect match but they’ll win because they have magicians.”
Leicester’s sorcerer-in-chief Jamie Vardy has had many a Premier League defence under his spell this season, and he conjured up a spectacular finish to score one of the goals of the season in a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.
“This season, what Jamie Vardy is doing is fantastic,” added Ranieri. “It’s good for him, good for us and good for our fans.”
Leicester will need Vardy to be at the top of his game, having failed to score in their last three league matches against Saturday’s opponents, including a 0-0 draw in December’s reverse fixture.
Pep Guardiola’s confirmed arrival has dominated the headlines this week as far as Manchester City are concerned, but Manuel Pellegrini is trying to keep his focus on the title race, with Leicester’s visit a potentially pivotal point in the season.
Speaking after Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Sunderland, Pellegrini commented: “My future is my present, I try to win the next game and focus just on what we are doing.
“I’ve just said what will happen in June, but I am not thinking about the future because I never do it.
“So for me it is very important now to focus on our next game, which is Leicester at home, who is the leader, and we will try and be top of the table and to try and finish a very successful season.”
The Chilean could welcome back Fabian Delph (calf) and Eliaquim Mangala (hamstring) from injury, while Daniel Amartey could make his Leicester debut.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester City have won 16 of the last 19 Barclays Premier League games at the Etihad (W16 D1 L2).
– Leicester City have lost just one of their last 15 Premier League away games (W9 D5 L1).
– Sergio Aguero has scored 12 goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances for Manchester City.
– On the day of this game, Leicester City will have spent 47 days on top of the Premier League in 2015-16 – only opponents Manchester City have spent longer in first place this season (100 days).
– Manchester City have won the most points at home this season in the Premier League (28), while Leicester City have won the most away from home (25).
– Without Jamie Vardy’s 18 goals in the Premier League this season, Leicester City would be 18 points worse off.
– Manchester City have made a joint-league high 62 changes to their starting XI in their 24 Premier League games combined this season, while Leicester City have made the fewest (21).
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