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Leeds v Manchester City. Bielsa v Guardiola. This should be fun, even if we’re on the wrong end of it

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We’re at home to the 13th place side, how hard can it be?

Athletic Bilbao’s coach Marcelo Bielsa ( Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Manchester City

Date: 3rd October 2020

Time: 17.30 BST, 12.30 ET, 10.30 PST.

Venue: Elland Road, Beeston, Leeds, England

Streaming/TV coverage: Sky Sports, LUTV.


Leeds United are at home to the 13th place side in the Premier League on Saturday evening. The only problem is that 13th placed side are Manchester City and they have been known to be “a bit good”.

On a base level you look at this game and think that both teams play in a similar fashion, but Man City have better players and therefore will win. You then look deeper and think a similar thing.

Pep Guardiola’s side have switched to 4-2-3-1 this season, which should match up to Leeds’ 4-1-4-1 in a manner that isn’t too tactically complicated for Marcelo Bielsa’s men - the problem is how difficult it will be for Leeds’ players to win their 1v1 duels all over the pitch.

They key 1v1 battle for me is Kalvin Phillips against Kevin De Bruyne. For my money De Bruyne is as good as any footballer on the planet not named Lionel Messi and if he is able to get heavily involved in the game it will become almost impossible for Leeds to restrict their opponents to a manageable scoreline.

As Man City are without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling will likely play as the central striker although he is unlikely to play right up against Leeds’ two centre-backs. Sterling’s movement in behind is going to be very difficult for Liam Cooper and Robin Koch to deal with, and they will have to be especially careful when Leeds have the ball so as not to get caught on the counter by his electric pace.

I would not be at all surprised to see KDB push forward into the centre-forward role while Sterling drifts around, This could see Phillips dropping deep and Leeds having to spend some time in a three at the back formation out of possession as well as in possession.

There is no point in going through all the 1v1 battles that Leeds will have, but the particular fears I have defensively (other than De Bruyne being terrifyingly good) are Stuart Dallas v Riyad Mahrez. and Helder Costa v Benjamin Mendy.

On his day, Mahrez has the beating of almost any fullback in world football. Although Dallas has been excellent in the left-back role he could have real trouble with the Algeria international. On the other flank, Benjamin Mendy flies forward with reckless abandon at times and although his defensive game has improved, tracking back and defending is not a strength for Helder Costa. If this allows Mendy and (probably) Phil Foden to get 2v1 against Luke Ayling it could mean serious trouble.

There is hope against Manchester City though, as Leicester City showed last weekend in their 5-2 win in Manchester. Last season’s Premier League runners up do look shaky at the back and, similarly to Leeds, can be caught with large gaps in the defence if you can win the ball from them when they are in transition. There is space to be exploited in behind and a team giving away three penalties in one game doesn’t speak highly of their decision making.

This is one area where the Costa v Mendy battle could be flipped on it’s head. Mendy has a tendency to overcommit and this could leave a lot of space for Costa to exploit if Fernandinho and/or Rodri aren’t able to cover sufficiently. If these players do have to cover a lot, it could leave space for Mateusz Klich and Tyler Roberts/Rodrigo to get at the back four.

Despite the big money signing of Ruben Dias from Benfica, you would think this game would come too soon for the Portugal international to start. Aymeric Laporte was back on the bench last time out so he could be fit to start - potentially leaving a centre-back pairing of Laporte and Nathan Ake, which could take a while to settle as they are both more comfortable on the left side of the CB pairing.

If Guardiola wants to reduce the threat of Costa, he could deploy Laporte at left-back with a pairing of Ake and Barcelona target Eric Garcia in the middle. The more I think about this, the more likely it becomes in my head.

Leeds will be forced into one change. Jack Harrison is on loan from Manchester City so he is ineligible for the match. North Macedonia international Ezgjan Alioski will take his place based on what Marcelo Bielsa said in his press conference and he will need to be disciplined to deal with the pace of Kyle Walker.


PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Roberts, Alioski; Bamford.

Man City (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Garcia, Ake, Laporte; Rodri, Fernandinho; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden; Sterling.

I fancy Leeds to be able to score in this game, but I think Man City will be really up for this following their humbling by Jamie Vardy and Leicester City - I hope I am wrong but I can’t see us getting any points.

Leeds United 2 - 4 Manchester City (Bamford, Costa; Sterling x3, De Bruyne).

What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.