London: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Leicester will pose a formidable challenge to their Premier League leaders despite a drop in form.
After two fifth places in a row, FA Cup holders Leicester have won just six of their last 16 appearances in English football’s top flight.
Defending champions City, meanwhile, have won their last eight league games to take a three-point lead at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s home game against Leicester.
Nonetheless, Guardiola, whose side won 1-0 against the Foxes in September, said: “Leicester remain Leicester.
“For me, they remain (with a) top manager, absolutely, with exceptional players in all departments.
“But sometimes in the seasons there are times of ups and downs. Maybe we’re used to seeing Leicester up there all the time.
Guardiola paid tribute to the establishment of manager Brendan Rodgers, saying: “Hats off how well this club performs in so many ways – recruiting players, adapting and adjusting to a lot of situations – but sometimes there are times when they are not all consistent over time.
“It happens but from one game to another, when you see the quality they have, anything can happen.
“I give them the same value and the same credit because when you see how good they are, starting with the goalie and ending with (Jamie) Vardy, they’re exceptional.”
Sunday’s game will be Leicester’s first outing in the league since defeating Newcastle 4-0 on December 12 after games against Tottenham and Everton were postponed due to Covid-19 issues. They returned to League Cup action midweek but were beaten on penalties by Liverpool in the quarter-finals.
Liverpool’s clash with Leeds and Watford’s trip to Wolves, scheduled for December 26, became the last Premier League games to be postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks on Thursday.
A total of 12 games have now been called off in the past two weeks as Britain battles a record number of positive Covid cases due to the Omicron variant of the virus.
Earlier this week, Premier League clubs rejected the option of temporarily halting the season to allow a breaker for infections.
However, the traditional Boxing Day match schedule has already been disrupted with the potential to go further in the coming days with daily tests now in place for top English clubs.
“Following requests for postponement from Leeds United and Watford due to COVID-19, the Premier League board met this morning and unfortunately agreed to cancel the Boxing Day matches of the two clubs concerned “the Premier League said in a statement.