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Saturday 12:30 – Man City v Leeds
BT Sport 1
It seems like a lifetime ago that City’s defence was at sixes and sevens during a torrid second half at Elland Road in October. That 1-1 draw was one of the last times that City looked truly vulnerable at the back in any competition, and they will approach this encounter in a totally different frame of mind.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won 26 of their last 27 games in all competitions and will fancy their chances of inflicting a comfortable win against a rather naïve Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa has refused to alter his side’s approach in any of their clashes with the top-quality sides in the league, resulting in some ugly results.
Leeds have conceded a staggering 26 goals in 10 meetings against the traditional Big Six and Leicester this season, scoring just 13 at the other end. They don’t have the players to go toe-to-toe against bigger clubs and they certainly don’t have the facilities to take on this Manchester City side head-on.
City should move ever closer to an inevitable Premier League title with a comfortable win on Saturday.
City may have improved immeasurably at the back since their 1-1 draw with Leeds in October, but they have shown several defensive frailties in recent weeks. The champions-elect were lucky to concede just once in their 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund and The Whites will look to exploit the defensive weaknesses that have been exposed by Manchester United and Southampton in the past six weeks.
Bielsa’s side will get bodies forward at every opportunity and are likely to leak goals, but they are capable of causing City significant problems considering they have scored 11 goals in five away games at Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Leicester, and Arsenal.
Having been left out of the starting XI in City’s win over Dortmund, Jesus is likely to get the nod from the off on Saturday with Guardiola likely to rotate during a busy period of games. The Brazilian forward has scored just eight times in the league this season, in what has been a disappointing campaign in front of goal. But, he is the club’s fourth-highest scorer in the league.
Jesus has scored in each of City’s last two league wins and will hope to bag his first goal at the Etihad Stadium since January. He should have plenty of opportunities to do so against a Leeds outfit that has conceded an average of 18 shots per game against the Big Six and Leicester this season.
Leeds have not been afraid to attack some of the best clubs in the league in their own backyard since their promotion last year. Their open approach has resulted in first-half goals in games at Old Trafford, Anfield, Stamford Bridge, and the King Power Stadium. It has only failed to yield results at Tottenham and Arsenal.
City, meanwhile, have conceded in the first half in each of their last three league games at the Etihad, while they were incredibly lucky not to concede in the opening 45 minutes against Borussia Dortmund after a refereeing howler denied Jude Bellingham a what should have been legitimate goal midway through the half.
Leeds have the opportunity to catch City cold early on with Guardiola’s distracted by their involvement in Europe, but City should have more than enough to blow them away in the end.
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