Table of Contents
An overdue visit
Manchester City will look to inch a little closer to another Premier League title when they host Leeds United on Saturday.
It’s been quite some time since Leeds had paid a visit to Manchester City’s home ground; their only previous game at the Etihad in the Premier League was back in 2003 when these sides drew 1-1.
Pep Guardiola’s side needs three wins and two draws to guarantee they win the Premier League.
On the opposite side, Marcelo Bielsa’s Peacocks have shown they belong in the top-flight, currently sitting in the middle of the pack in 11th place.
Pep Guardiola couldn’t have asked for better news at this stage of the season regarding his player’s health.
His team is fully fit, which is the ideal scenario for a team chasing a quadruple but not wanting to wear anyone out.
Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus all sat out of their mid-week Champions League match with Dortmund.
We could very well see all three of them tomorrow.
For Leeds, Jack Harrison, the man on loan from Man City, is unavailable to face his parent club.
That’s a big blow given he’s second in team scoring this year with seven goals.
The only other injury concern for the Peacocks is midfielder Adam Forshaw, a long-term absentee with a hip injury.
Rodrigo and Pablo Hernandez (both with muscle strains), plus Robin Koch (knee injury), all returned from injury last week against Sheffield United.
Gaetano Berardi is available as well after recovering from a knee injury.
Since returning to the Premier League, Leeds United has been a delight to watch, but if you’re Marcelo Bielsa, it’s also been nerve-racking.
The Peacocks have scored 47 goals in the Premier League this season while conceding 48.
There’s an easy explanation as to why they’ve given up the fourth-most goals in the Premier League this season, and it has to do with dead-ball situations.
The Peacocks have faced 192 shots this season off corner kicks and set pieces, the third-most in the Premier League.
They put themselves under an excessive amount of pressure, and they get punished regularly.
The last time these teams faced each other, we saw something scarce, a team with more possession after 90 minutes than the Sky Blues.
It’s rare to see a Pep Guardiola team have less of the ball than their opponents.
Leeds had 52% of the possession in their 1-1 draw with City in early October.
No side has ever had more of the ball in both top-flight meetings against any side that Pep Guardiola has managed.
Manchester City haven’t exactly been the most hospitable when welcoming the newcomers to the Premier League each season.
The Sky Blues haven’t lost to a newly promoted EPL side in their last 41 fixtures at home.
Leeds have not fared well against teams at the top of the Premier League table either.
The Peacocks have won just one of their last 19 EPL games against a side starting the day in first place.
Reaching new heights
There’s a lot to like about how much the Peacocks have grown this season in the Premier League.
They have 42 points from 30 league games, their best tally in the top-flight since earning 51 points in 2001-02.
Their 47 goals scored is the most for a Leeds squad since they got 49 in 1999-00.
Not having Jack Harrison available is a blow for Bielsa’s team, but they have other providers who can contribute.
One of their best this season has been Raphina.
The Brazilian midfielder leads the team with 55 chances created this season and has six assists in the EPL.
He’s got 12 Premier League goal involvements in this campaign.
Ticking another box
Pep Guardiola could check off another box on his impressive resume this weekend.
The Spaniard has at least one win against 75 of the 77 opponents he’s faced in England’s top flight but never against Leeds.
A City win on Saturday would leave Middlesbrough as the only team Guardiola hasn’t beaten with City.
Shutting it down
It’s hard to keep track of the number of records Man City has equalled or beaten this season, but there’s extra motivation for the Sky Blues defence to play vital down the stretch.
City leads the Premier League in clean sheets with 17.
Another three shutouts in the league would equal the most for any City squad in the EPL since they had 20 in 2018-19.
Ahead of this match, City manager Pep Guardiola says his team needs to keep their foot on the gas.
“I hope we are prepared to compete. We are four games away, and tomorrow is a big step. The players know from the first game how difficult it was, and tomorrow will not be an exception.
“It’s a challenge. We are so close – we need three wins and one draw – and when you play at home, it is an opportunity.
“I admire a lot of things they [Leeds] do, especially how they behave on the pitch. It doesn’t matter the opposition or competition. They demand you do things you are not used to.”
Saturday’s match from the Etihad takes place at 12:30 pm. (JSL).