Leeds United. Any attack on. Naive. No game management.
You know what? You can absolutely stuff it. Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United are one of the best teams to ever leave the league and against elected champions Manchester City they have shown a completely different side to the one that has delighted us with their enthusiastic attacking style this season.
Stuart Dallas scored twice to secure a 2-1 victory at the Etihad in which we saw how good this Leeds side are. Dallas gave them the lead with a striking finish of a Patrick Bamford dismissal, but the key moment came when Liam Cooper was fired after a VAR exam. His lifted foot on Gabriel Jesus was a clear red card and Bamford was replaced by Pascal Struijk before half-time as Leeds looked to maintain their lead.
They almost succeeded. An incredibly resolute defensive display saw Leeds fill in the gaps, squeeze City in errors and keep the strong going into the second half. A few quick passes went through the defense for Ferran Torres to equalize, and now the defense had been breached, Guardiola’s side were surely on course for their 24th league win of the season.
This is where the Bielsa side is magic. Effort and hard work kept the manufacturing opportunities alive. Raphinha was tackled brilliantly by Ederson on goal, but when Dallas was played in added time he didn’t make a mistake. There will be little criticism of Bielsa tonight, that’s for sure.
“Great. I thought we did really well. Dug sometimes, but we showed another side of our game. A great goal in the end. A real good win,” commented full-time Luke Ayling.
“It was more about digging today. We did well at the start of the second half, they hit their target so we had to dig again. It showed a different part of us. knows we’re trying to join the teams. But today we dug. It makes me very proud. We looked like guys working hard for each other. ”
These Leeds players love to play for Bielsa and it is a testament to his training regime that they were able to outdo Man City and win all three points, despite playing the entire second half with just ten men. .
GUARDIOLA WAS FRUSTRATED ON THE LEFT
Meanwhile, ‘Pep roulette’ has haunted Fantasy Premier League players since joining City in 2016, but against Leeds this game of chance was in full swing as Guardiola clearly had other things on his mind. In just four days, Manchester City will face Borussia Dortmund in what is clearly the most pivotal game of their season.
That tie is at stake, as City take a 2-1 lead against Germany and the Premier League title is almost over, it’s clear that Guardiola’s attention has now turned to Europe. Ruben Dias, Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte, Sergio Aguero, Kyle Walker and Phil Foden were all left out as City looked to use their squad’s depth to shatter Leeds. It did not work.
They were just lacking that star quality that we see so often with this team, but if that means their players are fresh for Wednesday night, it will be a sacrifice Pep is happy to accept. United could close the gap on City to eight points if they win their two games in hand, but even still, it’s a tough request with just six games to go and Guardiola knows it. The Champions League, the trophy he hasn’t won in a decade, is the big prize for him this quarter. If City do end up lifting him, they just might finish a quadruple.