war of the roses
It’s hard to believe we have just three Premier League home games remaining, including this clash against Leeds United.
After Leeds, we have five scheduled games on the bounce away from the Etihad before returning to face Chelsea and then Everton next month.
Should we progress into the Champions League semi-finals, we’d have at least one more home game during that period, but either way, the finishing tape is in view and the next few weeks will shape our season with our fate in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League to be decided.
If we can see off the challenge of Marcelo Bielsa’s side on Saturday, we will move to within seven points of the Premier League title – but the Yorkshire side have already given us a tough contest earlier in the season and their open, attacking style will no doubt do so again in this meeting.
One thing is for sure, games with Leeds United are never dull and it’s likely to be an exciting, end-to-end match.
So, what have we got for you in our latest digital programme?
Our regular features include Pep’s manager notes, Buzzer’s weekly column and Marc Riley and Kevin Cummins’ contributions.
We also look at the many connections between City and Leeds, as well as the Lilywhites’ season so far and the colourful history of this fixture.
All the above and plenty more – enjoy the read and, of course, the game…
Pep's pre-game thoughts...
Good afternoon to City fans across the world.
I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. Hopefully it is not too long before we can see you again, helping us to win football matches. It feels so long since we had your support inside our stadium, but we feel your love and encouragement from afar, I can promise you that. It means so much to my players and staff.
Today we face Leeds United, a side I know will push my team to their limit. Leeds play a high-intensity game, never rest, have tremendous quality in attacking areas and we will absolutely have to be at our best to stand up to the challenge.
But it’s the kind of challenge we enjoy. I know Marcelo Bielsa well – he is an inspiration to me – and to have the chance to play against one of his teams is a pleasure.
Marcelo is committed to playing football the people want to watch. That deserves huge praise, and I am so happy he is working here in England. The Premier League is lucky to have a manager like him.
It should be a fantastic game of football and it’s one I am looking forward to.
I was delighted once again with the character my players showed to beat Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. I said before the game Dortmund had plenty of quality and they proved that. It was a difficult match, and to come out with a victory is more evidence that my team has fight and determination to succeed.
That is something that I will never negotiate. My players know it and my staff know it. No matter what the competition or who the opponents, we play to win every single match.
But luckily for me, I have a group of players who share the same commitment and drive I do. I see it in training, I feel it when we have team meetings together – they want success and will do whatever they can to achieve it.
It’s a pleasure being the manager of this team.
Take care everyone, and enjoy the game!
Our Club Ambassador's regular column...
The game against Borussia Dortmund went very much the way I expected it to.
They are a very good, organised side and they wouldn’t have reached this stage without being a strong outfit, but I still feel we have a very good chance of progressing to the semi-finals.
We missed a few chances in the first leg and they will have to come out more in Germany which I think will suit our style and I am very confident we can see the job through.
Phil Foden’s performance against Dortmund was superb. He just gets better and better. His confidence is high and he can destroy anyone if they give him 10 yards space – he is good in tight spaces, too and able to do the unexpected, so he is almost impossible to play against.
He is a very nice lad, as well – he’s been patient and never been one to claim he should be playing in every game and I think the way Pep has managed his development has been perfect.
He is very professional, will play for England for many years and will keep getting better.
In midweek, we also had some fantastic news with Kevin De Bruyne extending his contract until 2025.
We are talking about one of the best players in the world at the very peak of his powers and it just shows how great this football club is – on and off the pitch – that a player of his calibre feels so settled and happy to be here.
The fans adore him and he is a modest man, too and I’m just thrilled to think we’ll have him for another four years.
On to our game with Leeds United and this is a match I’m really looking forward to.
Back in my day, they were one of the hardest teams to play during Don Revie’s era with some wonderful players.
They were hard, aggressive but fair and they had a collective will to win that made them a formidable force and I had the greatest respect for them.
Tragically, they’ve lost so many of those great players in the past year – Trevor Cherry, Peter Lorimer, Norman Hunter, and Jack Charlton – incredible footballers and great men, too.
The current Leeds United side are very easy on the eye and I think this will be a cracking game – they have an excellent manager in Marcelo Bielsa and a talented, attack-minded group of players.
They will come here to play football and that’s all you can ask as a spectator, isn't it?.
I was saddened to hear of Frank Worthington’s passing recently.
Frank was a wonderful footballer and a great friend – I always told him with his ability, he should have played in Italy or Spain because it would have suited his game perfectly.
He was a talented footballer and I’ll miss him.
At the time of writing, I have just heard that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has passed away aged 99.
He was a great man and a wonderful servant for this country and on behalf of myself and Manchester City, I'd like to send our sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this difficult time.
Enjoy the game and let’s keep our fingers crossed that my next column will be for a Champions League semi-final tie.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Leeds have been a colourful and welcome addition to the Premier League...
Leeds United announced their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence in thrilling fashion.
Marcelo Bielsa's side pushed defending champions Liverpool all the way at Anfield, eventually losing 4-3.
It was a sign that the Yorkshire side weren't planning on just making up the numbers this campaign.
After exiting the Carabao Cup 9-8 to Hull on penalties, Leeds beat Fulham 4-3 at Elland Road to get their first three points on the board and that was followed by a 1-0 derby win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane to complete an impressive first month.
Bielsa's men then held City 1-1 at Elland Road in an absorbing contest, following that with a 1-0 loss at home to Wolves.
Aston Villa's fine start to the campaign was brought to a shuddering halt as a Patrick Bamford hat-trick saw Leeds win 3-0 at Villa Park.
But one word would surface regularly - inconsistency.
Successive 4-1 losses to Leicester and Crystal Palace was followed by a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal and a 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park.
Leeds were holding their own.
December would again prove wildly unpredictable - defeats to Chelsea and West Ham followed by a 5-2 win over Newcastle United and then a 6-2 loss to Manchester United!
The Leeds style perhaps needed tweaking a tad and a more conservative 1-0 victory over Burnley was followed by a 5-0 win at West Brom - it was feast or famine for the Lilywhites!
The New Year started badly with three defeats on the bounce to Spurs, Crawley Town and Brighton - but of course, it was followed by wins over Newcastle (home) and then Leicester (away).
It goes on! Leeds lost 2-1 at Elland Road in February, beat Palace 2-0 and then lost 4-2 to Arsenal, were beaten 1-0 by Wolves before seeing Southampton off 3-0.
The Lilywhites ended the month with a 1-0 loss at home to Villa.
March's results were again impossible to call.
Defeat at West Ham, a 0-0 draw with Chelsea and a 2-1 win at Fulham meaning they went into the international break in 11th and comfortably clear of the drop zone.
Bringing their season up to the present, a 2-1 win over Sheffield United gives Leeds an excellent chance of a top 10 finish.
If they can achieve that, it will be a hugely successful return to top flight football.
They have won 13, lost 14 and failed to draw a single game away from home - it's all or nothing with Bielsa's Leeds United - but one thing is for sure, it is never dull!
And in Patrick Bamford, Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips in their number, they have quality all over the pitch.
our history versus leeds utd
It's fair to say that for the first six years of meetings between City and Leeds, it was the Blues who enjoyed the lion's share of success.
Leeds United were only formed in 1919, so the first meeting wasn't until 1924 - a 3-0 win for City at Elland Road.
In fact, City won the first seven meetings between the sides with an aggregate of 17-7 until the Lilywhites won 4-1 in April 1928. City won the next two meetings by three-goal margins to make it nine wins out of 10, though over time, this would level out somewhat.
Of the 105 clashes, only 18 have ended in draws - approximately one in five meetings - and none of the first 14 games ended in a tie.
Just before the War in April 1938, City posted the biggest win yet, handing a 6-2 thrashing out to Leeds at Maine Road.
It would be the last meeting for 13 years.
City had the better of the 1950s with six wins and two draws from 10 matches.
And Leeds failed to beat City at Maine Road from 1936 to 1969 - losing 11 and drawing one of 12 visits to Moss Side before a 2-1 win for Don Revie's side in November 1969 ended a dreadful run for the Yorkshiremen.
Indeed, from 1968 to 1974, Leeds enjoyed great success against City, winning 11 games and losing three with no draws.
In 1978, the teams met in an explosive FA Cup third round tie that City edged 2-1 despite a lengthy delay for crowd trouble.
It would be the start of a run of just one loss in 13 clashes (W7 D5 L1) up until the mid-1980s.
In April 1992, City thumped league leaders Leeds 4-0 at Maine Road - a result that gave title-chasing Manchester United a huge fillip, but Howard Wilkinson's side went on to secure the last First Division championship before the Premier League era began.
In fact, City had beaten the champions elect 4-0 and the following year beat Leeds 4-0 again as defending champions!
The Yorkshire side enjoyed their biggest Maine Road triumph in 2000, beating City 5-2 in the FA Cup third round - a game that the Blues had led 2-1.
And on City's return to the top flight, Kevin Keegan's side were well-beaten 3-0 on the opening day of the 2002/03 season.
The final meeting at Maine Road in January 2003 went City's way (2-1) and the first meeting at the City of Manchester Stadium ended 1-1.
Following a 2-1 loss at Elland Road in 2004, the teams wouldn't meet again until 2013 with City winning 4-0 in the FA Cup.
Last October, the first Premier League meeting for 16 years ended 1-1 at Elland Road with City currently leading 45 wins to 42 in all competitions.
Hopefully, this historic fixture will become a regular encounter again for the foreseeable future.
watching all together
Celebrated photographer Kev Cummins and an unusual experiment...
When I was shooting my final season at Maine Road book, I thought it’d be an interesting idea to lock the camera on one part of the Kippax, and set the camera to shoot every 90 seconds to record one block of fans going through the emotions of 90 minutes. I decided to do it when we played Leeds, as I thought (hoped) we’d probably score.
I reined the idea in a bit, and just shot the first half, as I felt it might be a bit irritating for people to be faced with a camera on a tripod for the whole game. I couldn’t leave the camera unattended either, in case a ball hit it or a player ran into it, so my assistant, Natalie, sat with a stopwatch, and pressed the shutter every 90 seconds. I think she found it quite frustrating, as she had no idea what was going on behind her.
I was interested in taking the idea further - maybe just filming one person throughout the match on a tight close up of their face, but my editor/designer, Mark Farrow, talked me out of it. I think he was already worried that the book might run to five volumes as it was.
I’m still interested in doing this; maybe at a Champion League Final in the future. Unfortunately it’d require someone willing to sit with their back to the potential ‘Greatest Day of their Life’ in order to sit and watch one fan’s face in close up for 90 minutes (plus the potential of 30 mins extra time and pens).
Applications on a postcard!