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Premier League: Can Leeds United Stop Manchester City’s Title Procession?

Manchester City will welcome Leeds United to the Etihad Stadium this Saturday to set up an exciting clash between two of the top managers in the Premier League. While the Citizens will be looking to move one step closer to the title, Marcelo Bielsa’s men will be looking to play fearless football that has come to define the team in recent years. If there is any team that can stop City’s title procession, it is Leeds – the last encounter between both the teams in October ended in a thrilling 1-1 draw.

Here’s our preview of Saturday’s game between Leeds United and Manchester City:

LEEDS UNITED

Leeds United have made a mark in their debut Premier League season under Marcelo Bielsa with their fearless and entertaining style of play. They are one of the few teams to hold back the top-flight clubs in the league, drawing games against Manchester City and Chelsea. The Whites have netted nine goals in their last six matches away from home, and enter Saturday’s fixture after back-to-back victories against Fulham (2-1) and Sheffield United (2-1)

While Marcelo Bielsa has repeatedly mentioned that the team’s objective this season is to secure their place in the Premier League and play fearless football, the team will have a top-ten finish in their minds when they take the field at the Etihad. The Whites are currently 11th in the table with 42 points from 30 fixtures, which includes just three draws, the lowest in the league excluding Sheffield United. Above them are Aston Villa with 44 points and Arsenal with 42, and Leeds will be happy to hold City and add a point to their tally.

Injuries have limited Leeds’ options at the back this season, but with Diego Llorente back in form and Robin Koch returning after knee surgery, the defence has strengthened in recent weeks. Liam Cooper and Pascal Struijk are in good form, making this present lineup perhaps the strongest the team ever has been. Jack Harrison, the star of the Sheffield United encounter, will not be available due to Premier League loan rules.

MANCHESTER CITY

After a shaky start to the season, there is only one opponent left for Pep Guardiola’s side – a tight schedule and tiredness. The Citizens have now won 27 of their last 28 matches across all competitions, and head into Saturday’s fixture with a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. But with the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal just four days away, it is a tough task for Pep Guardiola to rotate players and keep them fresh for the encounter. 

But City’s squad is deep, and any secondary lineup is an unenviable opponent for Premier League teams. Pep Guardiola will be looking to give Sergio Aguero a last hurrah, as the club’s topscorer is set to leave the club at the end of the season. He has missed the last few encounters due to an injury but is fit for the clash against Leeds. While Pep Guardiola has no injuries to worry about, his rotation strategy would be keenly watched.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The head-to-head between both the teams is even – with Manchester City winning 45 of their 115 fixtures so far and Leeds winning 42 times. But the teams are completely different from the time they used to play each other frequently, and the only recent encounter between the present teams was the reverse fixture in October. In that encounter, Rodrigo punished Ederson’s error to equalise an earlier Raheem Sterling goal for City. 

WHAT TO EXPECT

Both Leeds and City are managed by two of the most respected and skilled managers in the world of football. While City are naturally the better and stronger team, it is Leeds’ aggressive approach that will dictate the match. There will be plenty of goals whenever Marcelo Bielsa’s men are on the field, and Saturday’s fixture is expected to be no different. 

Expect another thrilling draw that will do down to the wire.

Leeds Predicted XI:Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha, Dallas, Roberts, Costa, Bamford.

Manchester City Predicted XI: : Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Gundogan, Fernandinho; Torres, Bernardo Silva, Sterling; Aguero.

When: Saturday, 10 March 2021, 5:00 PM IST

Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be streamed on Star Sports and Star Sports Select channels.

 

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