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Leicester v City: Key battles

MIDFIELD BATTLE: Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfred Ndidi battle for possession in the first half.

MIDFIELD BATTLE: Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfred Ndidi battle for possession in the first half.

Though neither side will announce their line-ups until an hour before kick-off this Saturday, here are five possible duels that might prove pivotal should they happen…

John Stones v Jamie Vardy

Both fresh from England duty, Stones and Vardy know each other well and will have faced each other many times during training while on international duty.

To date, Vardy has the better of the duel with five goals in the last three appearances against Stones (three while at City, two against Everton), but it’s fair to say the young England defender wasn’t at the level he is now during those games.

 

KING JOHN: The City players mob John Stones after his header against Napoli

 

A year under Guardiola has transformed Stones from one of the most promising defenders in the Premier League to one of the best.

Of all the individual battles, whoever emerges on top from this duel is likely to be on the winning side.

Demarai Gray v Kyle Walker

Walker and Gray have not faced each other very often in senior football – just once, in fact, where Walker’s Spurs emerged 2-0 winners.

Gray is likely to try and drift in from the left as even his pace is unlikely to trouble Walker.

A talented winger, it will be a good test for the Foxes’ youngster against arguably the best right-back in the Premier League.

 

SPECIAL K: Kyle Walker gets City motoring forward

 

Fabian Delph v Riyad Mahrez

There is no doubt former PFA Player of the Year Mahrez can give any left-back a torrid afternoon.

Should Fabian Delph recover from the strain that kept him out of the recent England internationals, he will have potentially one of his toughest tests yet as City’s stand-in full-back.

 

FAB JOB: Delph will be busy...

 

Mahrez has hurt City before and if he and Vardy are tuned in, they can forge a lethal partnership and be a constant threat when the Foxes break.

Whether new boss Claude Puel utilises the pair to the same effect Claudio Ranieri did during Leicester’s title-winning campaign remains to be seen, but Delph will need to be on his game from the first minute until the last to keep the Algerian as quiet as possible.

Wes Morgan v Gabriel Jesus

 

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Who starts up front for City on Saturday?

Gabriel Jesus has played two friendlies for Brazil during the international break, but crucially, one was in Lille and the other London.

Sergio Aguero, who was taken to hospital as a precaution after feeling unwell during Argentina’s friendly with Nigeria, has played two games for his country, both in Russia.

Perhaps fresher, if Jesus gets the nod, he will be up against the powerful Foxes captain Morgan.

Though Jesus would most certainly have the edge in terms of speed, the young Brazilian is up against a strong, experienced defender who will aim to let the City striker know he’s in a game.

Wilfred Ndidi v Kevin De Bruyne

Defensive midfield duties are likely to fall to Ndidi tomorrow and he will have the daunting prospect of De Bruyne and David Silva this weekend – enough to give any player sleepless nights.

Ndidi has the role Danny Drinkwater and, to a certain extent, Ngolo Kante, held previously before both midfielders shipped out to Chelsea.

 

SO YOU WIN AGAIN... KDB

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The 20-year-old Nigerian will look to break up play either through interceptions or tackles and is widely regarded as one of the Foxes’ most industrious players.

Expect him to cover and defend whenever the Blues counter-attack, but he’ll need help from his team-mates to keep out a side that is averaging more than three goals per game this season.

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