No team has retained the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009 and if Manchester City are to arrest that trend they will have to do so from some way back.
A second shock defeat in five days, this time at the hands of Leicester, leaves City seven points off leaders Liverpool, and now behind Tottenham in third.
Of greater concern though, was a display that exposes serious concerns about their ability to close that gap. Defensively, City were a mess and in attack there was often miscommunication and a paucity of ideas. To compound the result, Fabian Delph was shown a straight red card late on for a tackle that claimed the ball but finished with his studs into Ricardo Pereira’s knee.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Leicester 4-3-3: Schmeichel 7; Ricardo 7.5, Morgan 7, Maguire 7.5, Chilwell 7; Ndidi 6, Choudhury 6.5 (Gray 63’ 6.5), Mendy 6; Albrighton 8, Vardy 7.5 (Okazaki 88’), Maddison 7.5 (Simpson 78’)
Booked: Maguire, Vardy
Subs not used: Evans, Ward, Iborra, Ghezzal
Claude Puel 7
Manchester City 4-3-3: Ederson 7.5; Danilo 6, Stones 6, Laporte 6, Delph 4; De Bruyne 5 (D Silva 70’), Gundogan 5, B Silva 7 (Mahrez 83’); Sterling 5.5, Aguero 6, Sane 6.5
Booked: Stones, Aguero
Sent off: Delph
Subs not used: Walker, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Foden, Muric
Pep Guardiola 6
Ref: Mike Dean 7
Att: 32,090 .
At the final whistle Pep Guardiola looked stunned.
It was December 2016 when City were torn apart at the King Power Stadium and so ragged was their display at times in this game it felt almost as if the intervening months had never happened.
They were again terribly frayed in defence, and a sequence of nine successive games in all competitions without a clean sheet is alarming for a club of their aspirations.
Having given Kyle Walker the cold shoulder after the defeat to Crystal Palace, Guardiola dropped his right-back for this match, preferring to start Danilo and moving John Stones to central defence. Fabian Delph was tasked with moving into midfield from left-back when City had possession, in attempt to counter the void left by Fernandinho, and there was a second Premier League start of the season for Kevin De Bruyne, his first since August.
And to begin with City did a good impression of a team unfettered by doubt following the shock loss to Palace, going ahead in the 14th minute. Aymeric Laporte strode forward and Leicester backed off, enabling the defender time to pick his pass to Sergio Aguero. The ball was firm and immediately quickened the pace. Aguero fed Bernado Silva, who was played onside by Ben Chilwell, and the finish that followed was pristine, right into the corner as Kasper Schmeichel spread himself.