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Manchester City vs. Leicester: Hosts ‘expected to close gap’ on visitors with victory

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With Liverpool currently in Qatar for the Club World Cup, it’s a chance for one of second-placed Leicester or third-placed Manchester City to finally gain ground on the runaway Premier League leaders as the title-chasers face each other this weekend.

Despite Man City being four points behind Leicester, who are a further ten behind Liverpool, the bookmakers expect the hosts to prevail in Saturday’s 17:30 (GMT) meeting at the Etihad.

Man City are 4/11 to gain the three points and close the gap, with the draw 9/2 and a Leicester upset 13/2.

Given that Man City have already lost at home to Wolves and Manchester United this season, as well as to Norwich and Liverpool on the road, the odds on an in-form Leicester side winning seem massive.

Indeed, Brendan Rodgers’ side pushed Man City all the way in May in the penultimate match of last season, brilliantly holding out until Vincent Kompany’s 70th-minute wonder-strike opened the deadlock and effectively meant the title would remain in Manchester rather than head to Liverpool.

Interestingly, this meeting will be the eighth time these two sides have played each other in the month of December in all competitions within just seven years, with Leicester unbeaten in the last five of those, including last year’s memorable 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day.

The last time Leicester were on a domestic run of form like this, of course, was in their title-winning season in 2015/16.

Arguably the most memorable match of that famous season was the 3-1 win at Man City and, while Guardiola’s side undoubtedly remain a better side than Pellegrini’s were during that campaign, there are similar defensive vulnerabilities at present which Jamie Vardy can look to exploit.

The 33-year-old’s goal-scoring run cruelly came to an end against Norwich last week, as his headed effort was deemed to be going off target before opposing goalkeeper Tim Krul inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net.

Vardy is 7/4 to get back on the score-sheet here, with Gabriel Jesus 23/20 and Raheem Sterling 13/10 after the England winger scored twice against Oxford in the League Cup in midweek.

Kevin de Bruyne, who was rested for that match, perhaps looks the value punt in this market at 13/5, especially if he continues to be positioned in a more offensive role to wreak havoc like he was at the Emirates last weekend.

I'm a freelance sports journalist who has worked for Goal & Bleacher Report amongst others. Get in touch, you're more than welcome to do so via Twitter.  

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