This Saturday’s fixture matches up Manchester City’s new record signing Aymeric Laporte and Leicester’s top Premier League scorer Jamie Vardy.
Laporte’s £57m arrival from Athletic Bilbao is the second highest fee paid for a defender after Virgil Van Dijk. It brings City’s spending under Guardiola to over £450m with half of the money being spent on defenders.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City spending
The 23-year-old Frenchman had an impressive debut in City’s 3-0 win over West Brom last week. Laporte had a 95 per cent passing accuracy which was the highest of any outfield player in the match. He and Nicolas Otamendi also restricted the Baggies to just three shots with just one on target.
The centre-back started 19 of Bilbao’s first 20 League games this season and remained unbeaten in his last eight League games for the club. In his first full season in 2013/14, he was named in La Liga’s team of the year while still a teenager. In that season he helped Bilbao into a fourth-place finish and qualification for the Champions League for the first time in 16 years.
Statistically, Laporte profiles similarly to John Stones, albeit a left-footed version, with his passing range particularly strong. He averaged 7.4 accurate long passes per 90 mins in La Liga this season, more than any outfield player aged 25 or under in Europe’s top five divisions.
Europe’s top five leagues – defenders aged under 25
|Player||Club||Accurate long balls per 90|
|Mauricio Lemos||Las Palmas||7.0|
|Joshua Kimmich||Bayern Munich||6.6|
At 191cm, Laporte is also taller than Stones (188cm) & Otamendi (183cm), and is especially strong in the air. He won 71 per cent of his 69 aerial duels in La Liga – more than any other defender in the competition.
La Liga defenders (50+ aerial duels)
|Player||Club||Aerials duels||% won|
He may deliver in terms of his passing accuracy and aerial prowess, however with Man City’s high line, Laporte may need to call upon his basic ground speed as he is set to come up against the fastest forward in the Premier League this season. Jamie Vardy has recorded a top speed of 35.1 kilometres per hour.
The England international has 12 League goals this season, just one shy of his total of 13 last season. He has five goals in his last seven Premier League matches, scoring in each of the last three, although two of those have been penalties.
Man City vs Leicester
February 10, 2018, 5:15pm
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Should Vardy score on Saturday it will be the first time he has scored in four successive Premier League games since his record run of scoring in 11 successive matches in 2015.
Interestingly, there are signs that Vardy is improving in aspects of his game. His goals have come from 43 shots this season, with only Wayne Rooney has a better shot conversion rate in the competition.
That is a marked improvement on previous years. In fact, Vardy’s shot conversion rate has improved year on year in his Premier League career.
Jamie Vardy’s improving conversion rate
He will not be daunted by facing City either. Vardy can boast a stunning record in games against the big-six sides, scoring more Premier League goals against them than any other player in the last four seasons.
Most PL goals v big six
Although he failed to register a single shot in Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to City at the King Power Stadium in November, he currently has seven goals in nine Premier League appearances big-six sides this season.
Indeed, Vardy actually has a better scoring rate in bigger games compared to other sides.
Jamie Vardy against the big six
|Goals||Games||Mins / goal||Conversion rate|
|v Big Six||22||42||152||30%|
Who will come out on top in the tussle between Manchester City’s record buy and Leicester’s big-game player? Catch it Live on Sky Sports this Saturday.