Leicester City looked to complete their first league double over Manchester City since the 1986/87 league season, after winning 5-2 at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season, but Kevin De Bruyne and co had other plans.
The Foxes failed to go ahead of Manchester United into second place, who still have a game in hand. But Brendan Rodgers' side sit comfortably in third place, with 56 points, five ahead of Chelsea who yielded to a shock 5-2 defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion.
Story of the Match
Leicester made just one change to the team that beat United in the FA Cup quarter-finals before the international break, with Daniel Amartey coming in for Caglar Soyuncu. City, however, saw almost all the first teamers start, including Sergio Aguero.
The hosts were put on the backfoot from the very first minute of the match. In the fifth minute, Rodrigo Hernandez struck a shot which deflected back in the path of Fernandinho. The Brazilian shot a venomous 30-yard-screamer – only for the goal to be ruled out due to Aguero obstructing Kasper Schmeichel’s view.
Manchester City enjoyed stringing around passes as Leicester tried to win back possession, but rarely did the Foxes manage to control the ball. With just over a quarter of the match done, Timothy Castagne’s poor clearance forced the ball to loop into Aguero’s path and the striker surprisingly shot sky high over the bar.
Minutes later, Wilfred Ndidi’s foul on De Bruyne saw the Belgian win a freekick and hit the top of the crossbar with a fantastic dipping effort.
Between the 20th & 25th minute, City saw 96% of the ball as opposed to Leicester’s 4% - such was the dominance on display from the Cityzens.
Riyad Mahrez came close to opening the scoring but Schmeichel put in a brilliant save from close range, just before De Bruyne blasted a superb curling effort jut wide of the goalkeeper’s post.
Leicester’s first clear cut opportunity arrived in the dying minutes of the half-time whistle when Ayoze Perez sent a deft through ball to see Jamie Vardy round off Ederson and find the back of the net – only to have run in behind a second earlier than Ruben Dias and subsequently called offside.
The second half witnessed a resilient Leicester City determined to throw the visitors off possession, but it remained far-fetched, even though the Foxes saw more of the ball this time around.
Youri Tielemans almost scored after Iheanacho won the ball off Fernandinho and initiated a wonderful counter-attack. The Belgian saw his effort brilliantly stopped by Dias who lunged in with a slide tackle.
In the 58th minute, De Bruyne slid in a pass to Mahrez whose thunderous shot was stopped by Schmeichel. The ball found itself with full-back Benjamin Mendy, who dummied Marc Albrighton before curling in a composed finish with his weak right-foot. An inevitable goal that would have come sooner or later.
Soon after the goal, the Foxes picked themselves up and enjoyed a fair share of possession with glimpses of creativity, but ultimately fell short of producing anything worthwhile. Iheanacho’s substitution came as somewhat of a shock as he was one of Leicester’s best players. Nevertheless, incoming talent James Maddison put in an impressive cameo.
Manchester City’s second of the night was a goal worthy of the highest praise. It was the creation of De Bruyne, once again.
The silky midfielder picked the ball in the center-half before sending in a defense splitting pass to Gabriel Jesus - a pass that took out two Leicester players within an inch of their boots. The striker exchanged passes with substitute Raheem Sterling before tapping in City’s second.
The visitor’s high-intensity pressing and passing was rarely matched by the hosts, as it almost turned into a trio of goals after Jonny Evans lost the ball in defense. Mahrez shot just wide and failed to capitalize on the veteran defender’s mistake.
Leicester’s efforts bore no fruit, even in the dying minutes as Maddison missed an opportunity from close range. Unable to outfox the visitors, Leicester City ran into defeat for the second time in five matches. Whereas the City machine rolls on, needing only 11 points to win the Premier League title.
Defensive rigidity & flexibility in formation
Manchester City’s possession-intensive style of play seemed to wear out Leicester City who failed to establish a footing in the match – constantly being dispossessed, running short of ideas and stuttering defensively.
Even though the Foxes excel when adapting a counter-attacking style of play, Rodgers would benefit from allowing his players more freedom in the midfield and final-third. Lapses of concentration were very well visible among Amartey, Wesley Fofana and Evans.
Versatile Ayoze Perez
Undoubtedly one of Leicester City’s better performers on the night where the rest of the team underperformed. Perez displayed his versatility once more.
He put in a great defensive contribution, dropping deep in midfield and occasionally supporting Ndidi & Tielemans with the dirty work.
His talent naturally makes him an asset in a team that relies on making accurate passes to score goals, something he has provided time and again on the pitch.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Evans, Fofana, Amartey, Ndidi, Castagne, Albrighton, Tielemans, Perez, Vardy, Iheanacho.
Manchester City: Ederson, Laporte, Dias, Mendy, Walker, Fernandinho, Rodri, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Jesus, Aguero.