Marcelo Bielsa here, carrying his imaginary watermelon into the ground before kick-off.
It is only snowing in Manchester. Enough winter already!
So there’s a Manchester City midfielder missing from both line-ups: Leeds have to leave out the on-loan Jack Harrison while City, as widely predicted, rest Kevin de Bruyne. He’s not the only player to have started against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday who does not here: coming in for this game are Ake, Mendy, Fernandinho, Zinchenko, Torres, Gabriel Jesus and Sterling. Walker, Ruben Dias, Gundogan, Rodri, Mahrez and Foden are all on the bench this time, along with De Bruyne.
The names in the frame for this game are the same as these:
Man City: Ederson, Joao Cancelo, Stones, Ake, Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Zinchenko, Torres, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling. Subs: Walker, Dias, Gundogan, Steffen, Rodri, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden, Garcia.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Cooper, Alioski, Phillips, Raphinha, Dallas, Roberts, Helder Costa, Bamford. Subs: Koch, Poveda-Ocampo, Casilla, Hernandez, Struijk, Berardi, Gelhardt, Klich, Shackleton.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
When these teams met at Elland Road in October Leeds had the majority of the possession, and won the shots-on-target battle 7-2 (City won the less hotly contested shots-off-target battle 14-2), but drew 1-1. The season was young then, and most teams had only played four games, but at that stage Leeds were eighth and City 14th. Everton were top with a 100% record. Ruben Dias made his debut.
But some things haven’t changed, including Pep Guardiola’s admiration for his opposite number, Marcelo Bielsa, a theme he has returned to this week. “If there is one person who can find the secret or the way we want to play it is him,” said Pep. “His work ethic and his knowledge about the game [is incredible]. People say he doesn’t win titles but give him Manchester City and he will win titles. It depends on the players you have but the players he has are always better players. That is the best proof of when a manager is good.”
The title thing is a pretty decent one though, and Guardiola is about to bank yet another of those. City need, at most, 11 more points to become champions of England once again, but Leeds’ hope here is that so great is their cushion in their table they might let their attention drift to the second leg of their Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund, which will be played on Wednesday, and perhaps play a less than full strength side here. We’ll find out soon enough. Welcome all!