'You just never know' - A key battle and the otherworldly talent Leeds United have to stop in Manchester City clash
Leeds United are up against it tomorrow when they make their first visit to the Etihad since a 2013 mauling, but as their Elland Road encounter with Manchester City proved, you just never know.
Date: Saturday. Time: 12.30pm. Competition: Premier League. Venue: The Etihad. Odds: Man City win 2/7, Draw 19/4, Leeds United win 9/1.
LAST TIME AT THE ETIHAD
FA Cup. Sunday February 17 2013: Manchester City 4-0 Leeds United
Marcelo Bielsa doesn't believe that one position or area of the pitch will carry more responsibility than any other for Leeds against City, but it's obvious that the key for the Whites will be how hard they work. In the previous clash Kalvin Phillips worked his socks off to get on the ball and helped Leeds emerge from a period of intense pressure to make a real game of it. The running stats will need to be off the charts, again, to get a result. And when chances come, as surely at least one or two will, Patrick Bamford, Raphinha and Tyler Roberts or Rodrigo, whoever gets the nod as number 10, will have to be sharp and clinical in front of goal. Wastefulness just won't cut it.
CITY KEY MAN
Kevin De Bruyne
Where do you even begin? Pep Guardiola has a squad full of world class quality and depth to choose from. They're not machines, he says, but De Bruyne is not of this world. In the opening stages at Elland Road he looked like a man playing against boys. He picks passes others can't see or make and poses untold problems. Then there's Phil Foden, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, etc, etc, etc. It's an incredible test for Kalvin Phillips and Stuart Dallas in the Leeds midfield. Phillips struggled early on in the previous battle but he's a little older and a little wiser thanks to a season of top flight football and further international experience. He will have to be at his very best tomorrow.
GRAHAM SMYTH'S VERDICT
Getting a result against a team who have lost twice since the November draw at Elland Road, a team with 27 wins in their last 28 games, seems nigh on impossible, doesn't it? But, Leeds did it before. Causing the same amount of problems for City as they did in the first game will be a monumental task. All the talk of this being a good time to play them seems a little silly when you look down the squad list and the options Guardiola has, but you just never know. I can see Leeds scoring in a defeat. 3-1 to City.