When Leeds United visits the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Manchester City will look to extend their advantage at the top of the Premier League standings.
The match at 3 p.m. will be shown on television, as opposed to the customary 12.30 p.m. time slot, which was skipped to accommodate King Charles’ Coronation.
Following an easy 3-0 victory over West Ham on Wednesday, defending English champions Manchester City reclaimed the top spot in the Premier League (PL) after only 24 hours away from it. Erling Haaland scored his 35th league goal of a scorching season at the Etihad Stadium on a historic night, and with City already winning 11 of their past 12 league games, a sixth title under Pep Guardiola appears more likely than ever.
With City leading “to nil” at halftime and or winning both halves in each of the four games prior to their victory in midweek, a run of 14 straight wins at Etihad suggests this will be another easy home victory for the firm title favorites.
The last time City failed to score at least three goals in a game at home was a 2-0 victory against Newcastle in early March. That is obviously bad news for Leeds United, who are in transition and have the league’s worst defense. It raises concerns that they will experience a landslide akin to the team’s 7-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in December 2021.
However, with new coach Sam Allardyce in charge, there is renewed optimism that the previous defensive meltdowns will be a thing of the past. The man referred to as “Big Sam” in the stands is also looking for personal atonement after losing his reputation as a Premier League manager who had never been demoted in 2021 when he oversaw West Brom’s demotion.
However, the fact that Leeds’ new firefighting specialist coach has lost all four of their previous head to head matches against Pep Guardiola clearly suggests that any personal “redemption” will be at best postponed. This is especially true considering that in each of those defeats, his team at the time allowed three or more goals.
Haaland, who scored a second half brace in the rematch in December (W 3-1), is currently attempting to break the 40 goals barrier in an English top flight season for the first time in 62 years. Jack Harrison, a winger for Leeds, is up against his former team once more, and for what it’s worth, against the visitors’ extremely long odds, all nine of his goals scoring PL away games with the Whites have ended in triumph.
Kevin De Bruyne, a playmaker for Man City, has been sidelined for the past two games with an undisclosed injury, but Guardiola stated during the pre-game press conference that the Belgian has “trained good” and would be evaluated before the start of the encounter on Saturday.
Ake could stay on the left side of defense after returning from a hamstring injury to start and score against West Ham. Stefan Ortega, who unexpectedly received his Premier League debut in place of Ederson in midweek, will be hoping to keep his spot between the posts.
If De Bruyne is not healthy enough to play, Guardiola may replace Foden with either Riyad Mahrez or Jack Grealish. Haaland, who scored twice against Leeds in a 3-1 victory at Elland Road earlier this season, is expected to continue in attack alongside Julian Alvarez.
For Leeds, injuries to Luis Sinisterra (ankle), Tyler Adams (hamstring), Stuart Dallas (leg), and Liam Cooper (muscle) all keep them out of action. Allardyce has also acknowledged that a few unknown players have “niggles” that will be evaluated before the game.
Illan Meslier, a goalkeeper, has received criticism recently and is in danger of losing his starting position to Joel Robles. Allardyce is also likely to consider defensive changes as he tries to shore up his backline against a rampant City side. Last time out, Maximilian Wober, Pascal Struijk, and Junior Firpo all came off the bench as replacements and will be vying for a spot in the starting lineup this time.
Wilfried Gnonto, who was highly praised by Allardyce prior to taking the Leeds position, will probably start on the left wing, and top scorer Rodrigo is anticipated to make his way back into the starting lineup, either in place of or assisting Patrick Bamford in attack.
Manchester City possible starting lineup
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake, Rodri, Gundogan, Foden, Alvarez, Grealish and Haaland.
Leeds United possible starting lineup
Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Wober, Firpo, Roca, McKennie, Forshaw, Summerville, Rodrigo and Gnonto.
Our prediction is Manchester City 3-0 Leeds United
The outcome of Saturday’s game might have a significant impact on both ends of the table because Leeds, which is in danger of running out of games to rescue itself, travels to the Etihad as a large underdog against a Man City team that is actively pursuing the Premier League title.
It appears to be a tall order for Allardyce to shore up a pitiful Leeds backline in such a short amount of time against the most potent attack in world football, and we expect the Citizens to eventually run out comfortable winners, even if they encounter frustrations like they did in the first half against West Ham.