The English Premier League is back, but this week it is back with a stunning victory of Leeds United against the leaders Manchester City of Pep Guardiola. Leeds United of Marcelo Bielsa is a pretty unpredictable unit and they are capable of shocking anyone. Still, against the City of Pep one could expect another dominant display by a team who had been far better than most of the sides in this season’s Premier League.

It was a snatch-and-grab defeat to a 10-men Leeds unit after a dominant but largely dormant performance by the current league leaders, who surfaced a near-second-string-side.

Pep elected to heavily rotate the starting eleven following the first-leg victory in midweek and in preparation for the second leg against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night.

Many of the players were on display to stake a claim for their name to be involved in the big games on the horizon, but unfortunately, most did not perform to their optimum.

This was only a second loss for City in their last 24 league outings, and with the games running out they remain firm favourites to claim the third title of Guardiola’s reign, requiring 11 points from six matches.

John Stones and Fernandinho performed much better with or without the ball.

In the first half, they defended well and Fernandinho was the only real creative thrust for anything the side did well going forward. After the break, it was Stones who took on the creative mantle and stepped up into midfield as Leeds sat further off as the second half dragged on.

Both showed the only real promise or conviction to get on the ball and actually make things happen, carrying or passing the ball forward at every opportunity. Unfortunately, their charisma and attacking intent did not spur on their teammates to do the same.

Raheem Sterling, Joao Cancelo, and Benjamin Mendy were not up to the mark.

Sterling rarely threatened going forward, too many wayward shots, and one being a huge chance lay up by Fernandinho that he scuffed wide – a clear sign of a man out of form.

Cancelo again looked unconvincing and was at fault for the first goal, not sorting his feet out and failing to jockey Helder Costa well enough. Going forward he did not fare much better and his crossing was inept, to say the least.

And Mendy?

After a very good performance against Leicester last weekend, the full-back did not replicate that form.

Leeds did defend deep and compact, but Manchester City never really got the ball moving quickly and effectively, to try and pull out Leeds players from their shape and create openings in behind.

Whenever Manchester City looked below-par, slow tempo and a lack of rhythm undermined them.

The ball rarely moved that quickly around the Leeds backline and there was very little dynamic movement off the ball to create space elsewhere.

Even the introduction of Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden later after the break did not inject enough dynamism.

Manchester City’s link-up play never really shifted up a gear. Further to that, there never seemed to be any conviction in trying to beat a man, to try and get to the by-line, test the full-backs.

Given Leeds’ excellence on the ball, Pep Guardiola chose for both wide forwards to shift inside and mark the centre-backs when Leeds goalkeeper Meslier was in possession, while Jesus shifted backwards to mark Kalvin Phillips.

However, that then left the full backs of Leeds open and depended on Benjamin Mendy and Joao Cancelo pushing up to mark Alioski and Ayling. This would mean a man-marking system all over the park – a huge risk.

Stuart Dallas sprinted clear along the left and beat Ederson with as cool a finish as his opener, which had come as the break approached – a sucker punch!

We need points because our opponent can still win all of their games,” said Guardiola. “What happens when you lose a game – you realise then how difficult it is, what we have done before. When Liverpool lost a game at Anfield after three or four years [unbeaten] they realised how difficult it is, what they have done. Now we have to do it again.”

“We were not aggressive enough. We arrived in the final positions but today we could not score [enough] goals. We didn’t create enough chances, but when we play teams that set up in that way, with the pace they have on the counterattack, we need to be careful. They have a team that in transition are fantastic, and I congratulate Leeds.”

“We give [away] the first goal and after we created chances; not too many clear ones [though], because our crosses were not precise. If they win, they deserve it.”

Bielsa, a mentor of Guardiola’s, said, “I didn’t beat Pep. It’s a game between two teams with the players being the predominant factors. We are just simply the two managers of the teams that faced each other today. We deserved to win but the just or fair thing would have been for City to win [too].”


Leeds upset City and the Blues need to stand up quickly.

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