The Carabao Cup returns with the quarter-final stage of the competition seeing a number of incredibly interesting clashes. England’s top league has been one that continues to surprise and entertain, and perhaps the tie of the round is an all-Premier League clash, with Leicester hosting Manchester City on Tuesday.
The Foxes will be looking to add another trophy to their list, with their shock Premier League win likely fuelling the team as they continue to improve this season, while Manchester City are on course to complete a remarkable quadruple, with the League Cup the first step in achieving this.
Leicester have come back from the depths of the league to be one of the surprise packages once again. Of course, their exploits are not quite as outrageous as when they romped home to a Premier League title win, but they are still impressive. Craig Shakespeare’s tenure saw improvement last season before they once again started to falter. His sacking and subsequent replacement with Claude Puel has seen an immediate upturn in form, and Leicester have been climbing the table ever since. However, their failures were brought to light in the early kick-off on Saturday, as relegation troubled Crystal Palace saw out what can only be described as a comfortable win at the King Power Stadium, with the 3-0 scoreline not flattering them in the slightest.
The defeat shone a light on the failings Leicester are yet to remedy then, with their midfield at times weak. The likes of Riyad Mahrez and Demarai Gray are fine players going forward, but when it is not their day, they are able to have very little impact upon the game. Indeed, while their attacking input was stunted, Palace did not have to deal with them tracking back either, with the Foxes overrun by their opponents, who worked far harder on the day.
Against Manchester City, a side that are the overwhelming favourites, Puel will know that every single player will need to be on song, as beating the league leaders is a job that cannot be done if the team is carrying a few players. However, City’s style of keeping the ball and pinning their opponents back are the sort of tactics the Foxes enjoy playing against, having won a league title doing it a few years ago. With Mahrez, Gray and Jamie Vardy all incredibly quick players, Leicester could be set up in the perfect way to hurt City, and if they can play well defensively, then they may be able to hurt their opponents on the break.
What a season it is proving to be for Manchester City. It seems as though fans and critics alike are running out of superlatives for them, with each week seeing them improve. Pep Guardiola’s influence is now clear for all to see, and their style and quality is making every other team in the league look remarkably average. While City are adorned with world-class talent, the incredible management of Guardiola is not only seen in the team’s improvement, but in players like Fabian Delph, who, despite still not being the sort of talent people expect to see in a Guardiola side, has become a much better player in recent months, which is made even more impressive by the fact he is playing out of position too.
City go into the game after extending their own winning run to 16 games in the Premier League, while they have scored 55 goals this season, conceding just 12 times. Their last game saw them brush aside Tottenham in a convincing 4-1 win, as the London side had no answer to their opponents, with the only criticism of Guardiola’s men being the fact they probably should have scored more on the night. Regardless of this, it was a display of power, as they once again dismantled a ‘title contender’.
Against Leicester, City will see huge portions of possession and they will spend the majority of the game in their opponent’s half, with the Foxes happy to sit deep. Manchester City do need to be careful about the counter-attacking qualities of their opponents, but they have already beaten the Foxes at the King Power Stadium in a win 2-0 in November, with the hosts counter-attacking abilities completely stunted by the league leaders.
The game itself will likely see some changes to the sides that played on the weekend. Guardiola seems more than happy to rotate his squad, while Puel may also see the benefits of letting some of his peripheral players start the game. Regardless of this though, both outfits will come out looking to win the game, with the season’s first piece of silverware edging closer. With all of this in mind, we are backing yet another Manchester City win:
Leicester City 1
Manchester City 2