Tom Love has two tips for Leicester City v Manchester City on Saturday.
We have a top 4 clash at the King Power for our delight and delectation on Saturday tea-time. At one point it looked like it would be a straight fight for second place between these two with Leicester in front of the champions for a while, however, since City beat the Foxes at the Etihad back in December there has been a slight gap opening up and that now stands at 4 points in favour of Pep Guardiola’s men and they can increase it to 7 should they get the win here.
With the title all but gone for City they will have a greater focus on the Champions League, and with a mammoth clash against Real Madrid taking place on Wednesday it will be interesting to see if the former Barcelona gaffer rests his key men or not. It would be ironic if they went and won the Champions League after they’ve been handed a two year ban from next season by UEFA but the hierarchy at the club have longed for continental glory and bookmakers across the board still make the Blue Moon favourites to do so.
To be fair they do have a wealth of options, especially in attacking areas, and given their superb underlying performance data some might find the 4/5 quotes on the visitors quite appealing and it’s sure to tempt a few in. It does boil down to a case of motivation though and I can’t be confident that full focus will be on this for Man City, they’re going to finish in the top four but they’re not going to win the league so the focus on the cup competitions is understandable.
Leicester on the other hand have been a bit hit and miss since mid-December, the Foxes had a superb start to the season and a Champions League finish would be a dream for the club. Since their home draw to Norwich the 2016 champions have lost more games than they have won but you’d think they will be bang up for this one, after all they did win this fixture last season. Punters may also look at the 37/10 on them and see some potential value against a City side that have shown themselves to be beatable.
It’s not a game I am confident in picking an outright selection as the arguments for both sides make sense so I’ll look elsewhere for an angle. Given the way both sides are likely to set up it could mean it’s quite end-to-end and with that in mind the card markets could make appeal. Man City are the kings when it comes to cynical fouls, they actually rank 8th in the card table away from home and when they get caught on the break after an overload they’re happy to take a yellow to stop the counter attack.
Leicester aren’t the side to sit in deep, they’ll try and play here I’d imagine, especially being the home side and that could leave some gaps for City to get into. As a result I’m expecting plenty of transitions which usually leads to fouls and bookings. There were 2 cards a piece in the reverse leg and there has been at least 4 cards in the last four meetings between these two which shows there is a bit of needle there. Over 3.5 cards can be backed at 10/11 and that looks like an appealing alternative angle.
Following the bookings theme there’s one player that stands out at the prices. Ricardo Pereira has been the second best right-back in the league this season and his all round game looks well-polished. He averages an enormous 4.3 tackles per game as well as making 1.8 interceptions per game, this willingness to get stuck in also means he commits a lot of fouls, the most in the Leicester team in fact. So it’s a shock to see him only pick a single card this season, surely that has to change at some point given the statistics, he has been very lucky to avoid a few more cautions. He picked up seven cards last season in the league which shows he has previous.
Going of the straight-up numbers in terms of cards for him I can see why he is as big as 6/1 for a card but given the underlying data I’m more than happy to back him at those quotes, especially given he is up against a very attacking side.