Leicester City v Man City: Five talking points

Leicester City fans with their free bottles of beer before the Man City match.
Leicester City fans with their free bottles of beer before the Man City match.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Leicester savour their golden year

The gifts keep coming at Leicester. In their previous home game against Chelsea, they were handing out packs of Vardy Salted crisps to the supporters. On Tuesday night, there was free beer on offer and plenty to drink to.

Rock-bottom in March and seven points adrift with nine games left at one stage last season, Leicester's great escape, followed by their remarkable transformation into title contenders, has provided the English Premier League with the best story for years.

The table for the calendar year has them fourth, with 67 points from 38 games. What a tale it would be if the same were true in May.

Mangala and Otamendi take big step forward

The sight of Vincent Kompany watching from the stand provided a reminder of the statistic that has haunted Manchester City's defence this season.

Finally, though, they have put it to bed. After failing to keep a clean sheet in any of the 17 matches that Kompany failed to start, Joe Hart and the rest of his defence walked off the pitch at the King Power Stadium celebrating a rare shutout.

The theory beforehand was that Leicester, the joint-highest scorers in the Premier League and blessed with two of the top flight's most prolific players in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, would put Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi under the microscope. Yet City's £74 million (S$155 million) central defensive partnership coped reasonably well.

City's title credentials become roadkill

For a team with City's attacking talent, it seems absurd to think they have found it so difficult to score away from the Etihad this season.

Yaya Toure's stunning strike at Arsenal last week was only their second goal on their travels in the league since winning at Crystal Palace in September.

City are not the same team when they go on the road - they have failed to record an away league victory since that match - and Pellegrini knows that it needs to be addressed if they are going to win the league.

Getting Sergio Aguero back on song could be the key, even if all of his seven league goals this term have come at home. Making only his second start since returning from a heel injury, he was not his usual self against Leicester but was unfortunate not to win a penalty.

Leicester's unsung heroes take centre stage

While the spotlight has shone on Vardy and Mahrez this season, there are plenty of unsung heroes among Leicester's supporting cast.

N'Golo Kante, who signed in the summer from Caen, has emerged from the duo's shadows to get the credit he deserves in recent weeks and once again caught the eye here with his all-action style in the centre of midfield. Christian Fuchs is excelling in the left-back spot and Kasper Schmeichel continues to impress in goal.

Up against his former club, Schmeichel produced several decent saves, the pick of them being the superb stop he made when he turned Raheem Sterling's first-time shot around a post.

More caution by Foxes

Leicester were more cautious than normal, perhaps as a reaction to a first defeat since September by Liverpool on Saturday. They started with three centre midfielders - Gokhan Inler, Danny Drinkwater and Kante - for the second time in the league this season. The previous time was in the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Aug 29.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'Leicester City v Man City: Five talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe