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Preview: Leeds United vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League showdown between Leeds United and Manchester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The master takes on his most celebrated apprentice on Saturday when Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United welcome Pep Guardiola's Manchester City to Elland Road.

The newly-promoted hosts go into the match off the back of successive league victories, whereas Man City will be keen to bounce back from their 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester City last weekend.

Match preview

Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa on the touchline during their time with Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao respectively in 2012© Reuters

Compare the trophy cabinets of the two managers on Saturday and you would be forgiven for thinking that it was Bielsa who was trying to emulate Guardiola's ideas and teachings.

Ask Guardiola himself, though, and he will reel off reason after reason why Bielsa is the standard by which all other managers should be judged.

That arguably the world's best manager is such a devout disciple is a huge compliment to Bielsa, with the legendary Johan Cruyff perhaps the only other mentor figure Guardiola holds in such high esteem.

Yet Bielsa is still looking to get one over on his most successful student; the pair met three times during the 2011-12 season, when Guardiola's Barcelona beat Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao twice, with one draw too.

Saturday's match will not be the first showdown between these two on the touchline, then, but it will still be a special occasion as two managers with similar philosophies go head to head.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured during his side's 5-2 defeat to Leicester City on September 27, 2020© Reuters

The match comes at a time where Guardiola has seen his philosophy, or at least the success of it in the last year or so, questioned following last weekend's heavy defeat to Leicester City - the first time Man City had conceded five at the Etihad and the first time any team managed by Guardiola had shipped that many in a single game.

Indeed, the former champions let in as many goals to the Foxes as they had in their previous 11 league games combined before that, so the recent club-record acquisition of Ruben Dias is a timely one.

Guardiola's record of spending big on defenders has not always been exemplary so there will be plenty of pressure on the young arrival from Benfica to fix the problems which saw Man City finish 18 points adrift of Liverpool last season.

Last weekend's defeat means that they already trail the champions by six points this time around - albeit with a game in hand - and if they fall to back-to-back top-flight defeats for the first time since December 2018 then serious questions will be asked about their ability to mount a title challenge again this season, even at such an early stage of the campaign.

Man City have only lost one of their last 31 Premier League games against promoted teams, but that did come towards the start of last season against Norwich City, and Leeds look far more equipped to cause their visitors problems than Norwich did.

Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring against Sheffield United on September 27, 2020© Reuters

The Whites have impressed upon their much-anticipated return to the Premier League, going toe to toe with Liverpool at Anfield in their opener before victories over Fulham and Sheffield United got them off the mark.

In a high-scoring season, Bielsa's side have been some of the chief entertainers so far; only the top two of Leicester and Liverpool have scored more, but only their fellow promoted teams West Bromwich Albion and Fulham have conceded more.

Those stats are largely down to successive 4-3 scorelines to begin the campaign, and things did calm down last weekend when a late Patrick Bamford header handed Leeds a 1-0 win at Sheffield United in the first Premier League Yorkshire derby for more than 19 years.

Leeds are now looking to win three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since January 2003 and have won 14 of their past 17 league matches at any level, keeping clean sheets in 11 of those victories.

Another clean sheet may be ambitious this weekend against the Premier League's perennial top scorers, but they will fancy their chances of causing Man City at least as many problems as they caused Liverpool on the opening day, and another victory will raise debate as to what Bielsa's side could go on to achieve this season.

For Man City, defeat would leave them with a mountain to climb already, although Guardiola will no doubt demand another response to last weekend's performance having seen his side swiftly return to winning ways by beating Burnley 3-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night.

Leeds United Premier League form: LWW
Leeds United form (all competitions): LLWW

Manchester City Premier League form: WL
Manchester City form (all competitions): WWLW

Team News

Benfica's Ruben Dias in action against Rio Ave in the Primeira Liga on June 17, 2020© Reuters

Ruben Dias is eligible to make his debut this weekend, and Guardiola could throw him straight into the starting lineup after watching three of his back four give away clumsy penalties last weekend.

John Stones remains doubtful after missing the last three games while Oleksandr Zinchenko has suffered a fresh injury just when he was on the cusp of returning.

However, Guardiola did hand Aymeric Laporte his first appearance of the campaign against Burnley in midweek, while Bernardo Silva also returned ahead of schedule to ease Man City's injury woes.

Man City are still without a recognised senior striker with Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero sidelined through injury, which means that Raheem Sterling could play as a false nine again having scored twice in that role at Turf Moor.

Ilkay Gundogan has now completed his 10-day isolation period following a positive coronavirus test but he is unlikely to feature until after the international break, while Joao Cancelo is also absent.

Leeds will be without Jack Harrison, who is ineligible to face his parent club, while Pablo Hernandez, Adam Forshaw and Kiko Casilla are still injured.

Harrison could be replaced on the wing by Ezgjan Alioski, who incidentally was the last Leeds player to score in four consecutive league games - a record Bamford is looking to equal this weekend.

Mark Viduka, in April 2004, was the last player to achieve that feat for Leeds in the Premier League, while Bamford is already the first player since Mick Jones in 1968-69 to score in each of the club's first three matches of a top-flight campaign.

The striker's form has so far kept Rodrigo Moreno out of the starting lineup, and that is expected to be the case again this weekend.

There could be a debut for Rodrigo's compatriot Diego Llorente, though, with captain Liam Cooper the most likely to make way for the summer arrival.

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Llorente, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Roberts, Alioski; Bamford

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, Rodri; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden; Sterling

SM words green background

We say: Leeds United 2-3 Manchester City

It has been a bonkers season as far as goals are concerned so far - 103 flying in from just 28 games - and few fixtures promise goals as much as this one on the basis of what we have seen in the opening weeks.

There is every chance that Leeds could get something from this game, and if they play like they did against Liverpool and Man City play like they did against Leicester then they could even help themselves to a few goals in the process.

Such is the mouth-watering nature of this tie and the incredible rate of goals flying in around the league that there is a temptation to go for an even higher-scoring match, but we have reined ourselves in and are backing Man City to run out 3-2 winners.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Leeds and Manchester City?

Man City
Man City
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Leeds United players celebrate winning the Championship trophy with an open-top bis parade on July 22, 2020
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