Manchester City will maintain their fine form when welcoming Leeds United to the Etihad – Update News Sport

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City have hit a rich vein of form in the league, with their narrow victory over Wolves on Saturday making it six victories in a row.

With title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool not playing in this mid-week round of fixtures until Thursday, the Blues have the chance to go four points clear of the Reds in second place.

Pep Guardiola has a near-fully fit squad to choose from for the match but will be without the suspended Joao Cancelo after he picked up his fifth booking of the season at the weekend. Ferran Torres also remains sidelined.

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Leeds will be far from full-strength, however, with Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford, Pascal Struijk, Robin Koch and Rodrigo Moreno all ruled out through injury.

De Bruyne needs matches to find his best form and Phil Foden has been surprisingly slow to get up and running amid his injury issues. He has struggled over the last few weeks with an ankle issue preventing him from being at his best but the Blues could do with him stepping up tonight with Raheem Sterling on the bench.

Manchester City had to make do without their two first-choice full-backs for the Premier League game against Leeds.

Pep Guardiola was already without Joao Cancelo for the Etihad clash after the Portuguese playmaker picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 1-0 win over Wolves at the weekend. And Walker wasn’t deemed fit enough to make the matchday squad either, meaning youngsters CJ Egan-Riley and Josh Wilson-Esbrand came into the selection.

Neither youngster was named in the starting XI, with Guardiola naming three centre-backs and Aleks Zinchenko in his team in a line-up that could see John Stones play at right-back with Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte continuing their partnership in the centre of defence.

Away from the defensive intrigue, it is yet another show of faith in Jack Grealish from the City manager. Any talk that Guardiola is only playing him because of his price-tag is nonsense, but his role change from Villa to City is still confusing people.

Always a dangerous game to guess how Pep Guardiola will set up his team, but it looks like John Stones at right-back in the absence of the suspended Joao Cancelo and injured Kyle Walker.

There is always a chance he could opt for a back three but that would require playing someone in the right wing-back position, and that would be a waste of any of the feasible candidates.

The loss of Cancelo to suspension and of Walker, who is not in the squad, poses a problem for the Blues and explains the inclusion of EDS full-backs Egan-Riley and Wilson-Esbrand in tonight’s squad.

That does not mean either will play – John Stones is a likely option at right-back, but it’s not ideal for a tough game – one that City lost last season.

Pep Guardiola was asking for fan support against Leeds minutes after the Wolves game was over, he asked again in his pre-match press conference and has now repeated the claim in the programme. It’s clear that Leeds bother him, and with this game being the last at the Etihad before Christmas it is a chance for supporters to make plenty of noise.

Steffen, Rodri, Mahrez, Dias, Bernardo, Stones, Ake, Laporte, Palmer, Egan-Riley, De Bruyne, Wilson-Esbrand, Jesus, Grealish, Fernandinho, Foden, De Bruyne, Sterling, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Ederson

Joao Cancelo is the second City player to miss a Premier League match for picking up five yellow cards after Aymeric Laporte, but Guardiola shouldn’t have to worry about any others before the total gets reset.

Bernardo Silva and Rodri both have three yellow cards so far this season, but just need to avoid picking up two more in the games with Leeds, Newcastle and Leicester. If either manages to pick up two in three, they can have no complaints at all about a ban.

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City have to get their decision right on Ilkay Gundogan. He missed the midweek game at Aston Villa a fortnight ago after an issue with his back, but returned three days later and played very well at Watford. Guardiola started him again days later at Leipzig saying he needed rhythm, then started him against Wolves…only to substitute him early saying his back was still troubling him. Gundogan is available for tonight’s game, and is probably in better form than De Bruyne, but it will be a risk to start him again.

Leeds have plenty of quality in their team but there is no denying that Kalvin Phillips is a big miss for them – they lose three-quarters of the games without him and just a quarter when he is in the team.

City were inevitably linked with Phillips when he impressed during Euro 2020 but Guardiola’s midfield has gone from strength to strength this season with Rodri and Bernardo in such terrific form. City were almost overrun when they played at Elland Road last year but should be able to make their midfield supremacy count today.

Pep Guardiola talked up Leeds yesterday, saying that City do not face anything like them in their 36 other league matches. But, after being beaten the other week, Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann was of the view that no team in the division can do what City can do. Any disadvantage that the Blues have with the surprise of Leeds should be cancelled out why their own unique qualities.

Raheem Sterling’s penalty against Wolves was enough to see Manchester City maintain the Premier League top spot as they made it six straight wins.

A matter of weeks ago, the Blues were forced to name a number of youngsters on the bench as well as two goalkeepers for the trip to Villa Park, but now only Ferran Torres misses out through injury.

However, Pep Guardiola will have to make do without Joao Cancelo after the Portuguese defender picked up his fifth booking of the season and as a result will miss the visit of Marcelo Bielsa’s side.

Manchester City have named their side and substitutes to play host to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side in the Premier League this evening.

Pep Guardiola’s side are in fine form in the Premier League and have not lost in the league since 30th October, when Crystal Palace ran out 2-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium.

They top the table with 38 points from 16 games, but did lose at home against Leeds last season in a shock result.

Guardiola is without full-back Joao Cancelo, who is banned for one game after picking up five bookings, while Ferran Torres continues on the sidelines.

Ederson is in goal for the Citizens, while Guardiola selects Ruben Dias, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Further up the pitch Manchester City have Rodrigo and Kevin De Bruyne, while Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden all start. Jack Grealish also plays.

It is unclear if Guardiola intends to play three at the back, with Dias, Stones and Laporte, and employ Zinchenko in a wing-back role, or field a traditional back four.

Guardiola has options on the bench to call for if he wants to shake things up, including Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

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Former German international Dietmar Hamann has warned Manchester United that Ralf Rangnick shouldn’t be the long-term choice for them as manager.

The former RB Leipzig boss has begun his interim reign at Old Trafford, and is set to remain in charge until the end of the current season.

Rangnick will then move into a consultancy role on a two-year deal, with the club looking to appoint a permanent successor as manager in the summer.

The likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag are seen as the favourites for the role, although the possibility of Rangnick staying as manager beyond this season has been talked up by a few pundits.

But while Hamann feels his fellow countryman is a good appointment, the former Liverpool midfielder doesn’t believe Rangnick should be seen as the long-term choice as manager for United.

“I think he’s said it himself already it will depend on results, and he did it at Leipzig when he stayed on as manager for another year,” Hamann told FreeSuperTips.

“There’s a possibility, but I think it’s something they’ll take it week by week.

“I don’t think he is a long-term solution for Manchester United, but you could see improvements for the rest of this season and then there will be a decision to make.

“If there’s significant improvement, then the club might want him as a manager for the next two or three years if he would take that role.

“But for now, I think it’s a good appointment for them.”

Hamann added: “I think what they’ve been lacking is structure in the last few years since Ferguson left and I think he brings a football style that United fans will cherish.

“You always looked at United as a free-flowing attacking team with attacking flair players that have a lot of freedom.

“They’ve gone so far down in the last few years, so I think for a certain period of time it will be a good appointment for the club because it’ll bring back some structure.

“I don’t think he’s a long-term manager for United, but he wants to bring in a style of football that he knows, and they need it because they’ve gone so far down.

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