6 min: This is a supremely confident start by City, who will be in the mind to make a statement after last week’s shenanigans.
5 min: Two corners follow. From the first, Dias claims a penalty as his header twangs off Cooper at close range … but the referee calls it correctly, the ball having bounced off the Leeds defender’s head. Leeds clear the second.
3 min: Leeds have hardly had a touch. Sterling is bowled over out on the left. De Bruyne curls in the free ki … no he doesn’t! He opts to go for the top left, with everyone expecting the swinger to the far post. The ball caroms off the post and Leeds are able to hack out for a corner. Shades of Gary McAllister’s last-gasp winner for Liverpool at Goodison Park in 2001 … except that one went in of course. But it was an equally brilliant bit of quick thinking.
2 min: Rodri takes. Cooper clears. City take up possession again. De Bruyne slips a pass down the left channel for Sterling, who takes a touch inside and sends a curler, intended for the top-right corner, high over the bar.
1 min: City are on the front foot reasonably quickly. Mendy drives in from the left. Foden and De Bruyne combine to tee up Walker, whose weak shot is deflected out for a corner on the right.
City get the ball rolling … but only after everyone takes a knee. No room for racism.
The teams are out! Leeds are in their world-famous Revie white, while City sport a fetching black second strip. It is absolutely hosing down at Elland Road, shades of San Mamés in 2011, when Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao and Guardiola’s Barcelona shared the spoils in a four-goal thriller. More, please! We’ll be off in a minute.
Bielsa considers the style of his so-called former pupil. “I don’t see in Pep’s playing style any ideas that he’s taken from my playing style … It’s not a good time to face them. When they face adversity, they’re stronger.”
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.