London: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Leicester will pose a formidable challenge to his Premier League leaders despite a slump in form.
Following two successive fifth-placed finishes, FA Cup-holders Leicester have won just six of their last 16 matches in English football’s top flight.
Reigning champions City, meanwhile have won their last eight league games to go three points clear at the top of the table heading into Sunday’s match at home to Leicester.
Nevertheless, Guardiola, whose side won 1-0 away to the Foxes in September, said: “Leicester remain Leicester.
“For me, they remain (with a) top-quality manager, absolutely, with exceptional players in all departments.
“But sometimes, in seasons, there are periods of highs and lows. Maybe we are used to seeing Leicester up there all the time.”
Guardiola paid tribute to the set-up of manager Brendan Rodgers by saying: “Hats off to how well this club works in many senses - recruitment of players, adapting and adjusting to many situations - but sometimes there are periods that they are not consistent all the time.
“It happens but from one game to one game, when you see the quality they have, everything can happen.
“I give the same value to them and the same credit because, when you see quality they have, starting from the keeper and finishing with (Jamie) Vardy, they are exceptional.”
Sunday’s fixture will be Leicester’s first league outing since thrashing Newcastle 4-0 on December 12 after fixtures against Tottenham and Everton were postponed due to Covid-19 concerns. They returned to action in the League Cup in midweek but were beaten on penalties by Liverpool in a quarter-final tie.
Liverpool’s clash with Leeds and Watford’s trip to Wolves, scheduled for December 26, became the latest Premier League games to be postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks on Thursday.
A total of 12 matches have now been called off in the past two weeks as Britain battles record numbers 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 circuit breaker for infections.
However, the traditional Boxing Day schedule of fixtures has already been disrupted with the potential for more to go in the coming days with daily testing now in place for English top flight clubs.
“Following postponement requests from Leeds United and Watford as a result of COVID-19, the Premier League Board met this morning and regrettably agreed to call off the two affected clubs’ Boxing Day fixtures,” Premier League said in a statement.