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Man City vs Leeds: Predictions
Job done in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund in midweek, now Pep Guardiola must avert his gaze to the ever-enigmatic Marcelo Bielsa as he welcomes Leeds United to the Etihad, looking to take down a like-minded tactician and consolidate the club’s standing at the summit.
The esoteric discussion that stretched long into the night between Guardiola and Bielsa remains one of football’s more alluring fables and they converge was once again to pit tactical wits and strengthen their respective goals this term: City looking to usurp current champions Liverpool, and Leeds pushing for a late European charge.
City may have played a game more than their moneyed coevals and closest challengers to their position atop the table, but a 14-point gap between themselves and Manchester United at this stage of the season appears almost insurmountable, but perfectionist Pep will want to ensure his side finish the campaign with aplomb.
And that means ensuring complacency doesn’t creep in, so expect a mouthwatering showdown in the northwest when 11th-placed Leeds, who have won back-to-back games including a Yorkshire derby win over Sheffield United last time out, take to the turf. It’s seldom a dull affair when Bielsa’s in town.
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Man City vs Leeds: Match Stats
It was a lively affair at Elland Road when these sides last met, and there are few suggestions that the intensity will abate this time around. For Leeds their predominant playmaking threat has come in the form of summer recruit Raphinha, who has created more chances (55) and provided more assists (six) in the Premier League than any other player in Bielsa’s squad this season.
For City, well take your pick. Guardiola’s squad resembles a who’s who of future Ballon d’Or recipients; it’s never seems to be a question of if City will score, but when. Kevin De Bruyne has naturally been devastating this season, while Ilkay Gundogan has started to add goals to his game, and of course, Sergio Aguero will be determined to bow out in style — he netted a brace in his only previous appearance against Leeds, a 4-0 win in the FA Cup in February 2013.
En route to City’s famous defeat to Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup final, Roberto Mancini’s side blitzed past Leeds in the fifth round, with goals from Yaya Toure, a Aguero brace and Carlos Tevez sealing an emphatic victory, the first time the two clubs had met since the West Yorkshire club’s demotion to the Championship in 2004, though they managed to go unbeaten against them in that sobering season.