Frank Lampard’s 175th Premier League goal was enough to give City a 1-0 victory over a spirited Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
Coming into the game on the back of six straight wins, City started as strong favourites against a Leicester side that had lost eight and drawn two of their previous ten games, but had shown they were capable of producing an upset after beating United 5-3 earlier in the campaign.
The Blues, with David Silva, Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Vincent Kompany back in the starting line-up, rested Fernandinho, James Milner, Martin Demichelis, Jesus Navas and Pablo Zabaleta but lost Edin Dzeko in the warm-up.
That meant a first Premier League start for Jose Angel Pozo who, with Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic all absent, could be the Blues lone striker over the festive period – though Jovetic’s absence was more precautionary.
The Foxes, as expected, came out breathing fire in a bid to unsettle the champions and they could have gone ahead on 13 minutes when Jamie Vardy raced clear only to be challenged in the nick of time by Eliaquim Mangala.
Then, on 22 minutes, Esteban Cambiasso sent a 35-yard free-kick that had Joe Hart scrambling across his goal as the ball curled inches wide as the hosts continued to edge the opening period.
The Blues were offering little in attack with no shots on target in the first half-hour or so save for a speculative Pozo volley from 18 yards.
The first real work reserve keeper Ben Hamer had to do was when Yaya Toure fizzed a low shot in from the edge of the box on 32 minutes as City tried to find a way through a defence that had managed just two clean sheets all season. Then, five minutes before the break, City finally broke through.
Lampard received the ball in space on the halfway line and played in Samir Nasri who collected the ball on the left, wriggled past one challenge before cleverly poking the ball into the six-yard box where the unmarked Lampard was waiting to deftly guided home his sixth goal of the season and his 175th Premier League strike to date.
It was perfectly timed by the popular former Chelsea man - as ever – though a little harsh on the hosts who probably deserved to reach the break on level terms.
It wasn’t vintage City by any means and the game was something of a non-event in terms of incidents and notable chances and in truth, the midweek exertions in Rome meant that the Blues were happy to sit on their lead and control the game without ever really threatening to score again.
As the match wore on and the temperatures dropped, taking three points back to Manchester was all that really mattered and when Pozo was substituted 20 minutes from time, it meant the Blues had six midfielders on the pitch but no strikers!
The injury woes worsened when Kompany appeared to suffer a muscle pull with quarter-of-an-hour remaining but at least there was a ready-made replacement in Martin Demichelis to come on and usher out the remaining minutes.
As it was, the hosts couldn’t muster any real threat in the closing stages and the champions comfortably saw out the game to continue their magnificent run of late having done so with a minimum amount of fuss.