Two tactical geniuses in Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola will face off as Leeds United host Manchester City at Elland Road on Saturday.
The Premier League will brace itself for one of the most interesting fixtures in Gameweek 4 as Manchester City travel to Elland Road to face Leeds United on Saturday. It is going to be a fascinating encounter as two of the game’s most gifted tacticians in Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa go head to head.
Guardiola, in particular, is a huge admirer of Bielsa and has considered him to be one of his role models during the early stages of his managerial career. But the Catalan will be desperate for all three points after suffering a miserable 5-2 defeat at the hands of Leicester City in the last game.
The loss has already put Manchester City off to a poor start to the campaign and the Sky Blues certainly afford to give Liverpool the chance to get an early headstart in the title race. That said, Leeds United are not going to be a pushover by any means.
The Whites have enjoyed a fantastic start to their 2020/21 Premier League campaign, securing wins over Fulham and Sheffield United while nearly stealing a point against Liverpool in the opening fixture. They have also done well to bolster their ranks, notably acquiring the services of Diego Llorente recently.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both these teams ahead of this fascinating encounter in the Premier League this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
The biggest blow for Leeds United heading into this fixture is the absence of Jack Harrison. The key winger is ineligible to feature against his parent club Manchester City so Bielsa will be forced to make one change in attack.
The Argentine does have options in Ian Poveda and Ezgjan Alioski but the latter is a more natural fit on the left flank, with Helder Costa retaining his place at right-wing and Patrick Bamford, who has been involved in five goals so far, spearheading the Leeds United attack this weekend.
Bielsa has no reason to make changes in midfield, though it won’t be surprising to see the Leeds United manager opting for a double-pivot of Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips in order to provide better defensive cover for the backline.
Pablo Hernandez picked up an injury last month and will be out for a couple of weeks. Tyler Roberts should assume his role in the number ten position, with record signing Rodrigo almost guaranteed to feature as a second-half substitute.
And finally, in defence, we might see the first glimpse of new signing Diego Llorente, though it’s highly unlikely he will given a berth in the starting eleven, ahead of Robin Koch or Liam Cooper.
Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling are the other guaranteed starters for Leeds United, with Illan Meslier also retaining his place in between the sticks, ahead of Kiko Casilla.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Roberts, Alioski; Bamford.
Manchester City, who are missing out on the services of Sergio Aguero and Joao Cancelo, confirmed on Friday that both Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus have been ruled out for this fixture. They are not expected to be back until the end of the international break.
On the bright side, new signing Ruben Dias is fit and available. He could even make his Manchester City debut by featuring alongside Aymeric Laporte, at the heart of the four-man backline. Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy are the other guaranteed starters in defence, with Ederson Moraes starting in goal.
Gundogan’s continued absence in midfield means both Rodri and Fernandinho could feature in the double-pivot with Kevin de Bruyne, who was UEFA’s best midfielder award on midweek, should operate as the number ten.
Moving forward, Raheem Sterling could once again deputise for the injured duo of Gabriel Jesus and Aguero. His quick-feet and positional sense could be critical against Leeds United.
Sterling is set to be partnered by Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden in the wider offensive areas, with Guardiola also having the option of new signign Ferran Torres.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Mendy; Rodri, Fernandinho; Mahrez, de Bruyne, Foden; Sterling.
- Leeds United have won three of their last five Premier League meetings with Manchester City, including the last two at Elland Road. This is their first such clash since March 2004 when Leeds won 2-1.
- This is the first meeting in any competition between Leeds United and Manchester City since February 2013, with the Citizens winning 4-0 in an FA Cup tie.
- Manchester City have lost just one of their last 31 Premier League games against promoted sides, with the only defeat coming at Norwich last season, who were promoted as Championship winners the previous year.
- Leeds United are looking to win three consecurive Premier League games for the first time since January 2003.
- Manchester City lost 2-5 against Leicester City last time out, shipping as many as goals in that defeat as they had in their previous 11 league games combined. They’ve not lost back to back Premier League games since December 2018.
Player to Watch
ＨＥＲＥ ＨＥ ＩＳ！ 😍
Welcome Ruben Dias to City!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 29, 2020
Ruben Dias signed for Manchester City this week, in a €68 million move from SL Benfica. It was a move that drew in criticism regarding Pep Guardiola’s lavish spending in the defensive department.
So the Portuguese international will not only face the pressure of proving himself to the Premier League fans but also to his manager as he looks to justify his hefty price-tag. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the feisty nature of the Leeds United players including Klich and Costa.
Moreover, Dias’ ball-playing ability could be tested against Bielsa’s high press that should provide very little time for him to distribution possession from the back.
Leeds United 0-2 Manchester City
Leeds United have fared incredibly well in the Premier League so far, showcasing excellent courage and strength. However, they may find it difficult to cope with Man City’s creative prowess while Guardiola’s excellent positional knowledge could also nullify Bielsa’s high pressing. We expect a 2-0 win for the visitors.