Pep welcomes Ruben Dias. “He starts as soon as possible. He will adapt. Eric [Garcia] has some niggles in the hamstring and John [Stones] was out for ten days, so we didn’t have options. I think he has a good personality, a good header, good in the build-up, intelligent in movement. Do not forget he’s 23 and has time to improve.”
Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola meet again this evening, 14 years after the City manager made a pilgrimage to Argentina in search of knowledge. Jonathan Liew tells the story of one of football’s great enduring bromances.
Leeds United make just the one change from the side that won at Bramall Lane last weekend. It’s an enforced one: Jack Harrison is on loan from City and ineligible against his parent club, so Ezgjan Alioski takes his place.
Manchester City hand a debut to their new great defensive hope Ruben Dias. He’s one of three changes to the side thrashed by Leicester last Sunday. Aymeric Laporte and Ferran Torres are also in; Nathan Ake, Fernandinho and Eric Garcia make way.
Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Phillips, Helder Costa, Klich, Dallas, Alioski, Bamford, Roberts.
Subs: Poveda-Ocampo, Llorente, Rodrigo, Struijk, Davis, Caprile, Shackleton.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Mendy, Rodri, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden, Torres, Sterling.
Subs: Stones, Ake, Steffen, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Delap, Palmer.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Last season, Manchester City rebounded from the first loss of their campaign in spectacular style, following up a shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich by hammering Watford 8-0. Leeds United, fully aware that City had the back seat of their trousers handed to them neatly pressed by Leicester City last weekend, are permitted to take one long, loud, hard gulp. Nobody likes facing down a wounded lion.
Then again, Leeds are no Watford. The three-time champions of England, back in the big time after a ludicrously long hiatus, have immediately made their presence felt on the top division again. An unfortunate last-gasp 4-3 loss at the champions Liverpool was followed by a fingernail-bothering 4-3 win over Fulham and a staunch victory over local rivals Sheffield United. They’ve won 14 of their last 17 league matches, and under Marcelo Bielsa they’re unlikely to change their gung-ho approach for anyone.
So this promises plenty. City can’t be as bad in defence as they were against Leicester, surely, especially as they may name a fancy new centre-back pairing of Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias. And it’s not often that Kevin De Bruyne has two off-days in a row. But that won’t stop Leeds fancying their chances too: Patrick Bamford has three in three, while United’s overall total of eight goals matches the record for Premier League new boys after three matches, a total set by Bolton back in 2001.
City remain favourites to win, despite last weekend’s horror show. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if they posted another bounceback statement score. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if Leeds took their first big scalp post-return. Perfectly set-up, then. It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm BST.