Leeds United are bracing themselves for a daunting challenge ahead as they lock horns with Manchester City at Elland Road on Saturday. The Whites have had a positive start to the 2020/21 campaign, winning two of their three matches. However, Marcelo Bielsa will be well aware of the quality Man City possesses.
The Sky Blues haven’t exactly had a positive start so far, notably slumping to an embarrassing 5-2 defeat at the hands of Leicester City. They did secure a 3-0 win over Burnley in the Carabao Cup fixture in midweek, though Pep Guardiola will remain cautious of Leeds United, as he already holds Bielsa at high esteem.
Leeds United Vs Manchester City Tactical Preview
Bielsa has absolutely no reason to shift away from his tried and tested 4-1-4-1 setup, though the Argentine tactician may opt for a more defensive approach this weekend. So it won’t be surprising to see Mateusz Klich operate in a deeper role, providing additional support to Kalvin Phillips, making it look more like a conventional 4-2-3-1.
Guardiola is also expected to retain his preferred 4-2-3-1 setup. However, the Catalan will be looking to adopt a rare right-sided overload as Leeds are significantly weaker on that side. So we can expect Kyle Walker to play a crucial role in this fixture.
The biggest absentee for Leeds United heading into this fixture is Jack Harrison, who is ineligible to play against his former club. Pablo Hernandez was ruled out for two weeks and joins Harrison in the list of unavailable players for the Whites. On the flip side, though, we may see new signing Diego Llorente making the bench, perhaps even a Premier League debut.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Roberts, Alioski; Bamford.
Manchester City are missing out on a host of players due to injury including the two leading strikers in Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. They are also missing fullbacks Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko while midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is a doubt. However, new signing Ruben Dias is in contention to make his Premier League debut this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, Rodri; Mahrez, de Bruyne, Foden; Sterling.
With Harrison gone, Leeds United’s leading scorer this season, Patrick Bamford will become even more important for the Whites this weekend. Bielsa’s men aren’t expected to get too many chances, so the onus will be on the ex-Chelsea starlet to maintain his astonishing conversion rate in the Premier League so far.
As for Manchester City, they are going to rely on the services of Raheem Sterling as they look to deal with the injuries of both Gabriel Jesus and Aguero. It will be interesting to see how Bielsa plans to stop the English international this weekend.