Men's Team

City v Leeds: Ake returns as City make seven changes

City v Leeds: Ake returns as City make seven changes
Nathan Ake plays for the first time since Boxing Day as Pep Guardiola makes seven changes for today’s Premier League game against Leeds United.

The Dutch defender makes his long-awaited return from a muscular injury and is joined by Raheem Sterling, who is back in the starting XI after a two-game absence.

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Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus are also recalled as Guardiola makes widespread changes during this busy period.

Ederson, Joao Cancelo, John Stones and Bernardo Silva complete the line-up, with all four retained from the midweek win over Borussia Dortmund.

Sergio Aguero and Aymeric Laporte are not involved, with both players short of full fitness.

TEAMS

CITY: Ederson, Cancelo, Stones, Ake, Mendy, Fernandinho (C), Zinchenko, Bernardo, Torres, Sterling, Jesus.

SUBS: Steffen, Walker, Dias, Gundogan, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden, Garcia.

LEEDS: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Cooper, Alioski, Phillips, Raphina, Dallas, Roberts, Helder Costa, Bamford.

SUBS: Koch, Poveda-Ocampo, Casilla, Hernández, Struijk, Berardi, Gelhardt, Klich, Shackleton

WATCH: Guardiola: Adapting is crucial to stay successful

Formation

As is often the case, we’ll have to wait until kick-off to get a clear understanding of how City will line-up, but it looks as if Guardiola may have opted for his favoured 4-3-3, with Zinchenko deployed in midfield.

The Ukrainian has spent his City career at left-back, but the inclusion of Mendy suggests he will return to the role he played in when he first arrived at the Club.

Cancelo, Stones and Ake will join Mendy in a back four protected by Fernandinho, who captains the side.

Bernardo and Zinchenko will adopt more advanced midfield roles, behind a front three of Sterling, Torres and Jesus.

A big test to start a big week

With the return leg of our Champions League quarter-final with Borussia Dortmund and an FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea to follow, Leeds are the first challenge in a crucial seven day period in City’s season.

And Guardiola, with his huge admiration for Marcelo Bielsa, is under no illusions as to how difficult the task will be.

“They offer a type of game you are not used to, in any other game,” he said at his pre-match press conference as his side bid to record another victory and move a step closer to the Premier League title.

‘Win and after we can focus on the cups’ was the manager’s message when he spoke to the media and, taking three points against a team of Leeds’ quality will no doubt provide a timely boost ahead of two games which will have a significant bearing on the success of this season.

English Premier League
11 Liverpool Liverpool 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
12 Manchester City Man City 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
13 Manchester United Man United 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Stats and facts

  • City have not lost at home to Leeds in the Premier League since a 4-0 defeat at Maine Road in January 2001.
  • Leeds had 52% possession in our 1-1 draw earlier this season. No team has ever had the majority of possession against a Guardiola-managed side in both top-flight meetings in a season.
  • City need 11 points from our remaining seven league fixtures to guarantee winning a fifth Premier League title.
  • We have won 27 of our past 28 matches in all competitions, with our only defeat coming against Manchester United last month.
  • City have kept 17 Premier League clean sheets this season, just three behind our top-flight record set in 2018-19.
  • Guardiola's side have only conceded nine league goals in 2021 and have kept clean sheets in 10 of our 17 top-flight games during that period.
  • We are unbeaten in 41 home matches against newly-promoted sides since a 2-0 defeat by Reading in February 2007 (W36, D5).
  • Gabriel Jesus is one goal away from becoming just the second Brazilian player to reach 50 Premier League goals, emulating Roberto Firmino.
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