Leeds United handed Manchester City lifeline as Pep Guardiola's defensive duo doubtful

Leeds United face Manchester City this weekend but the Premier League champions may be without two England international defenders

By Joe Donnohue
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 11:45 am

Leeds United's five-match unbeaten run will face its sternest test this weekend with the visit of Premier League champions Manchester City.

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The Champions League semi-finalists are vying for back-to-back English league titles under Pep Guardiola, pushed all the way by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

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(Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Every point is vital at both ends of the table, as Saturday evening's game takes on great significance for Leeds and City.

Guardiola's men defeated Real Madrid 4-3 in the first leg of a pulsating Champions League knockout tie in midweek, but finished the match with veteran midfielder Fernandinho at right-back.

The Brazilian - who turns 37 in just under a week - is parting ways with the Manchester club this summer after nearly a decade and over 250 Premier League appearances.

The majority of these outings have been in defensive midfield, though, but due to a shortage of options at right full-back, Guardiola was forced to deploy his club captain there against the Spanish side instead.

England international John Stones had started the match in that position, but was withdrawn midway through the first-half with what appeared to be a muscular issue.

His involvement at Elland Road on Saturday will be contingent on a late fitness test, which teammate Kyle Walker will also be required to undertake after the England defender missed City's Real Madrid clash.

If Guardiola is forced to start Fernandinho at full-back once again, that will be a far from optimal situation to arrive at Elland Road with.

Leeds have trialled the 36-year-old's countryman Raphinha on the left-hand side of the attack on occasion, which could certainly be an option this weekend if Guardiola's hands are tied.

The Whites will need as much inadvertent assistance as they can get their hands on given the wealth of options City boast in attack, as well as their imperious form across all competitions this season.

With relegation rivals Burnley facing 19th-placed Watford, head coach Jesse Marsch will be keen not to lose any ground on the gap Leeds currently hold over the teams below them.