Half-time entertainment. Here’s Jonathan Liew’s take on the lunchtime kick-off.
HALF TIME: Leicester City 0-0 Manchester City
To popular acclaim, the former Leicester player shanks a dismal free kick wide left, and that’s the end of the first half. The champions have had a goal disallowed, while Leicester could (argue amongst yourselves) have had two penalties. No idea how this is still goalless, but it’s been a lot of fun. Don’t go anywhere!
45 min +2: Aguero comes back at Leicester, gliding in from the right and buying a cheap free kick off Soyuncu. This is just to the right of the D. Mahrez looks like he fancies a crack at this one.
45 min +1: Ricardo romps up the right, but loses possession, allowing Manchester City to counter at speed. De Bruyne clips Aguero clear down the inside-left channel. Aguero draws Schmeichel and curls it round the keeper, off the right-hand post and in. But the flag’s up for offside, correctly so. Aguero was a mile off.
43 min: Ricardo cuts in from the right and has a dig from the edge of the box. Easy pickings for Ederson, who is now getting booed every time he touches the ball.
42 min: Iheanacho gets up and walks off. He’ll be back in a second. Maddison meanwhile takes the corner, from which Tielemans has a whack that’s blocked and cleared. And then Iheanacho comes back on.
41 min: But before it can be taken, Iheanacho needs lengthy treatment. He took a rare old whack there. Anywhere else on the pitch, and that collision would have been deemed a foul. But keepers are keepers. Leicester want a penalty, but they’re not getting one.
39 min: Maddison, quarterbacking from deep, floats a pass into the Manchester City box. Iheanacho gets his head on the ball, hoping to loop it over the outrushing Ederson. He gets properly whacked by the keeper for his trouble. The ball clips off Ederson’s gloves and out for a corner.
37 min: Maddison whips a decent free kick towards the bottom left, but Ederson has read it well and turns it around the post for a corner. The set piece is a non-event.
36 min: Gundogan concedes another clumsy free kick, nipping at Maddison, 30 yards out on the left. He’s in danger of testing the referee’s patience with his repeated fouling. Maddison likes the look of this one too.
35 min: De Bruyne plays a glorious reverse pass down the left to release Bernardo Silva into acres. He’s got four team-mates in the box, but somehow manages to thread the ball between them all, finding nobody. Chilwell clears up the left flank.
34 min: De Bruyne threatens to zip clear down the left, but Soyuncu does extremely well to stick to his side and limit the problem to a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece.
33 min: After an interminable wait, De Bruyne larrups a very ambitious, reasonably dismal effort high over the bar.
31 min: Manchester City knock it about again. Eventually Praet gets fed up and bowls Rodri to the ground. This will be a free kick in a central position, 35 yards from goal. It’s De Bruyne’s turn to stand over a dead ball with eyes lighting up the night sky.
29 min: Maddison aims for the top right. The ball hits De Bruyne’s hand, which was shielding his face, and deflects harmlessly towards Ederson, who claims. Neither referee nor VAR consider a penalty kick, though you could hardly make the argument that De Bruyne’s arms were in a natural position there. Anyway, it is what it is.
28 min: Iheanacho latches onto a weak clearing header by Laporte, and dribbles with great purpose towards the Manchester City box. He’s clattered by Gundogan, and this is a free kick just outside the D, just right of centre. Maddison’s eyes begin to strobe with excitement.
26 min: Manchester City pen Leicester back. Mahrez probes from the right. Mendy curls in a couple of balls from the left. Leicester hold firm, but the pressure is building.
24 min: Mahrez dances in from the right, drops a shoulder, and tees up De Bruyne, who whips a low first-time shot inches wide of the right hand post. Schmeichel holds the pose of a man who had it covered, but I’m not so sure.
23 min: Manchester City are beginning to dominate, though every time Leicester get the ball, they look good for a quick break. This is nicely balanced. A goal is surely coming along soon, one way or another.
21 min: Fuchs and Maddison combine down the inside left, the latter slipping Iheanacho free in the box. Iheanacho takes a fierce shot from a tight angle, and Ederson fumbles it around the post, but up goes the flag for offside. The correct decision, but only just. Manchester City’s back line was not a work of art.
19 min: A free kick for Manchester City 35 yards out, after Iheanacho accidentally skids into Walker. It’s sent into the City box, forcing Evans to concede a corner. From the set piece, Mendy has a batter from distance. That one’s deflected over the bar, and the second corner is a non-event. After a slow start, the champions are beginning to ask some serious questions.
17 min: Manchester City stream forward in typically attractive style. Gundogan and Aguero exchange cute passes down the inside right, the former sidefooting towards the bottom right. He doesn’t hit it cleanly, but nearly catches out Schmeichel, who appears in two minds but hacks clear at the very last second. The resulting corner comes to nought.
15 min: It’s high-octane stuff, this. Everyone racing around like they’ve just ingested a whole pack of Refreshers. No prizes for guessing why they’re on my mind.
13 min: Fuchs hassles Gundogan on the halfway line, and wins yet another midfield battle for the hosts. Manchester City are preposterously ponderous sometimes. They get away with their latest faff when Fuchs seriously overhits his pass towards Vardy down the left. “Manchester City’s black second strip was ‘inspired’ by the colour scheme used in the Hacienda,” notes Frinton Bojangles. “I’d assumed the third kit came from someone’s chemically enhanced night out in the early 90s.”
11 min: Vardy makes good down the left and hooks low into the mixer. Fernandinho hacks clear with blue shirts lurking. There’s surely no way this match will end goalless.
9 min: Manchester City go up the other end and nearly score themselves. Vardy sashays in from the right and pearls one towards the top left. Schmeichel extends to full length in the process of tipping the shot away. This is already great fun.
8 min: Leicester come so close to taking the lead. Once again, the champions are caught dozing in midfield. Tielemans snaffles the ball and strokes a lovely pass down the middle of the park, Vardy tearing free. He slips the ball bast Ederson, only for his shot to smack the base of the left-hand post and bounce clear. So unlucky!
6 min: A nice open feel to this game. Iheanacho turns a ball round the corner on the left flank and sends Chilwell barrelling towards the Manchester City box. He goes shoulder to shoulder with Fernandinho and comes off second best, miscontrolling then falling over. He wants a penalty but there was little contact, certainly none that’s illegal, so come on and come off it.
4 min: Tielemans looks lively. He wins another midfield battle before driving his team forward. Maddison is close to releasing Iheanacho down the inside right, but his outside-of-the-boot flick is a wee bit too heavy and the former Manchester City man can’t control.
2 min: It’s all Manchester City. But then suddenly Gundogan is caught faffing about in the centre circle by Tielemans, who rakes a pass down the inside-left channel for Vardy. For a second, it looks like the striker will tear clear, but Laporte stands firm and ushers him away from the danger zone.
And we’re off! Manchester City get the ball rolling on a drizzly night in the midlands. They ping it around a lot. You sense a pattern is already set.
The teams are out! Leicester are in their trademark blue shirts, while Manchester City are kitted out in their retro-confectionery-influenced, yellow-and-pink third kit. Such a shame they’re not sponsored by Lyons Maid or Barratts. We’ll be off in a minute.
Pre-match Pep talk. “I select my team for this match. I never understand to play a game thinking about the next one. That way you can suffer a big defeat. The other is a good team. We don’t know exactly their set-up. I guess they’re going to play with five. We change the way we have to press, we have to adapt a little bit.” And then a light moment as he’s asked whether it’s a good or bad sign that Jamie Vardy hasn’t scored in eight matches? “A bad sign. [laughs] If you didn’t do the question, it would be a good sign! But it’s a bad sign, honestly.”
Brendan Rodgers speaks to Sky. “We lose that natural defensive midfielder player, so we put an extra one into the back line. It allows us to still play the way we want to play. We know we will have longer spells without the ball than normal, but you still have to fight and be strong defensively. And we’ve put in an extra striker to help us in the counter-attacking moments. We’ve played the system before. It’s a big game for us. If we win, we’ll go a point behind. It’s a great challenge.”
Leicester make three changes to the side that drew at Wolves last Friday week. Christian Fuchs, Dennis Praet and Kelechi Iheanacho replace Harvey Barnes, Ayoze Perez and the suspended Hamza Choudhury.
Manchester City make three changes as well, in the wake of their midweek victory over West Ham. Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan replace Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus and the semi-injured David Silva.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Soyuncu, Evans, Fuchs, Ricardo Pereira, Maddison, Tielemans, Praet, Chilwell, Iheanacho, Vardy.
Subs: Justin, Morgan, Albrighton, Ward, Barnes, Perez, James.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy, Rodri, Mahrez, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Aguero.
Subs: Bravo, Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Silva, Joao Cancelo, Otamendi, Foden.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
You can be pretty sure that Manchester City haven’t given up the Premier League chase quite yet. Yes, they’re currently 22 points behind leaders Liverpool, who require only five more wins to be certain of the title. But the gap was 25 before the West Ham stroll on Wednesday, and it’ll be just 19 if they see off third-placed Leicester City tonight. OK, OK … but do you really think Pep Guardiola is the sort to throw in the towel just because something’s merely improbable? Us neither, so here we all are.
This face-off between third and second should be a cracker. Not least because three points would be equally precious to Leicester, as they look to maintain a comfortable chasm between third and fourth. The Foxes took an early lead at the Etihad when these sides met in December, only for the Citizens to overpower them 3-1 in the end. But Leicester have only lost two of their last 18 at the King Power, while their Manchester namesakes went down here last season. Both Cities will take succour from recent history.
Can the reigning champions close the gap at the top with their second win in four days? Or will the hosts consolidate their Champions League berth by winning for the first time in four? We’ll find out this tea-time. It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm GMT.