Manchester City vs. Leeds United: Preview


Manchester City will attempt to increase their lead at the top of the Premier League table when they welcome Sam Allardyce's Leeds United to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Premier League have confirmed that the 3pm contest will be televised, with the usual 12.30pm slot avoided to work around the Coronation of King Charles.

Match preview

Those who questioned whether Man City were a better team without Erling Braut Haaland must surely have had a change of heart by now, as the Norwegian striker continues to write his name in the history books courtesy of a truly remarkable debut season in front of goal.

At just 22 years of age, Haaland now holds the record for the most goals scored in a single Premier League season after netting his 35th of the campaign in City's 3-0 win at home against West Ham United on Wednesday night, increasing his overall goal tally in all competitions to a mind-boggling 51 in just 44 games.

Nathan Ake and Phil Foden were also on the scoresheet against the Hammers – the latter netting the 1000th City goal since the arrival of Pep Guardiola – to help the Citizens extend their impressive winning league run to nine matches and return to the summit at the expense of title rivals Arsenal with a game in hand.

Fixtures continue to come thick and fast for treble-chasing Man City, who on average have just over three days to prepare for each of their next seven games this month, including Saturday's meeting with Leeds and next Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg with Real Madrid in Spain.

Guardiola has previously played down suggestions that his players are tired and he is confident that they will continue their strong run of form, particularly against a Leeds outfit whom they have beaten by an aggregate score of 14-1 in their last three league meetings, including a 7-0 demolition on home soil last season.

After losing seven games out of 12 in just two-and-a-half months in charge, Javi Gracia's brief stint as Leeds head coach has come to an end, along with the reign of sporting director Victor Orta, with the Spanish duo leaving the Whites in serious risk of suffering relegation from the Premier League.

A 4-1 loss at Bournemouth last weekend leaves Leeds sitting 17th in the table and precariously placed just above the bottom three on goal difference, and with just four games remaining, the West Yorkshire outfit have turned to an experienced head – one who rates himself "just as good" as Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta – to steer them away from danger.

Sam Allardyce is taking on the ninth Premier League club of his 29-year coaching career, stepping into management for the first time in two years since suffering a 3-1 defeat as West Bromwich Albion boss against none other than Leeds at Elland Road at the end of the 2020-21 season – with the 68-year-old condemned to his first-ever top-flight relegation in the process.

One of the first big tasks for Big Sam is to tighten up a leaky Leeds backline that have conceded more goals (67) than any other top-flight team so far this season, including 20 goals shipped in seven matches in April – a Premier League record in a single month.

Allardyce – who has won just six of his 34 meetings with Man City as a manager – believes that his new side require at least six points to avoid the drop and he has not ruled out the prospect of pulling off a seismic shock on Saturday against a Citizens side who lost 2-1 against Leeds at the Etihad in April 2021 and against Brentford by the same scoreline earlier this season.

Team News

Man City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has missed the last two games with an unspecified injury, but Guardiola confirmed at his pre-match press conference that the Belgian has "trained good" and will be assessed ahead of kickoff on Saturday.

Ake recovered from a hamstring injury to start and score against West Ham and he could continue on the left side of defence, while goalkeeper Stefan Ortega – who was surprisingly handed his Premier League debut at the expense of Ederson in midweek – will be hoping to retain his spot between the sticks.

Guardiola may consider swapping out either Riyad Mahrez or Jack Grealish for Foden, who was last handed a start in the middle of March, while Julian Alvarez is expected to continue in attack with Haaland – who scored twice against Leeds in a 3-1 win at Elland Road earlier this season – if De Bruyne is not fit to feature.

As for Leeds, Luis Sinisterra (ankle), Tyler Adams (hamstring), Stuart Dallas (leg) and Liam Cooper (muscle) all remain sidelined with injuries, while Allardyce has confirmed that a few unnamed players have "niggles" that will be assessed ahead of kickoff.

Goalkeeper Illan Meslier has come under fire in recent weeks and the 23-year-old is at risk of losing his starting spot to Joel Robles, while Allardyce is sure to ponder defensive changes as he attempts to shore up his backline against a rampant City side. Maximilian Wober, Pascal Struijk and Junior Firpo all began on the substitutes' bench last time out and will be pushing for a recall.

Allardyce was full of praise for Wilfried Gnonto before taking the Leeds job and he will likely hand the Italian teenager a start on the left flank, while top scorer Rodrigo is expected to return to the first XI, either replacing or supporting Patrick Bamford in attack.

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