Man City beat Leeds: Pep Guardiola’s side return to the top of the Premier League

Leeds United v Man City: Pictures

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Manchester City reclaimed their spot at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 victory over Leeds United at Elland Road. Liverpool’s victory at Newcastle in the early kick-off on Saturday meant that the pressure was on Pep Guardiola’s side, but they stepped up to the mark.

City took the lead in the 13th minute when Rodri glanced home a wide freekick from Phil Foden, who was being deployed in midfield rather than on the wing. Though Leeds will certainly feel aggrieved considering replays showed Stuart Dallas did get his foot on the ball in the ‘foul’ that led to the set-piece.

Nathan Ake then doubled his side’s lead when the Dutchman slotted past IIlan Meslier after Ruben Dias nodded a header into a dangerous area. Gabriel Jesus then made it three with a neat finish after latching on to a clever pass from Foden before Fernandinho came off of the bench to make it four with seconds to spare.

The competitive nature of the match meant it was certainly one for the neutrals, especially with so much at stake for both sides. Express Sport takes a look at five key talking points from the game.

Cooper injury

Leeds’ chances of getting a result against City took a hammer blow before the match had even kicked off as captain Liam Cooper hobbled off of the pitch in the pre-game warm-up. The Scotsman is an integral part of the solid backline that Leeds has formed lately.

With Burnley beating Watford 2-1 and moving away from the relegation zone, having their club captain unavailable with four games to go is an unneeded hindrance for Jesse Marsch. Especially given that Cooper has not been available for the entirety of this season already but has found some great form of late.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the news was announced, Robbie Keane said: “That’s a massive blow. He’s been instrumental in the last few weeks in how solid Leeds have been defensively. He’s your captain and leader, so if he’s out of this game now, it could cause a lot of problems for Leeds.”

Stuart Dallas was also stretchered off of the pitch after injuring himself in a tackle, adding to their injury woes.

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Electric Raphinha

It is no secret that Raphinha has been one of the saving graces for Leeds this season, and he proved against City why the Elland Road outfit are likely to part ways with the Brazilian in the summer. The tricky winger caused plenty of issues and stood out like a sore thumb in the Leeds attack, breaking through the lines and continually trying to craft chances out of nothing.

Barcelona have been linked with Raphinha on several occasions and it is clear to see why Xavi is interested in the winger. If Leeds can avoid relegation then they will, understandably, desire a premium price for the winger’s services, though dropping into the Championship would lead one to assume that the player himself could force a move – especially after he is likely to be Champions League standard.

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Left-back investment required

Although Ake was on the scoresheet and defender stoutly up until he picked up an injury just before the hour mark, Guardiola will certainly be in the market for an out and out left-back in the summer. Joao Cancelo has been superb for City this season but is more comfortable on the right, where competition for that spot is strong with Kyle Walker.

Ake did well on the left but struggled to cope with the pace of the Leeds forwards at times, though the former Bournemouth star is good quality cover for central defence. His lack of attacking presence was also noticeable, being unwilling to race down the left and cause overloads with Jack Grealish.

Zinchenko did well when he came on but the result was a foregone conclusion at that point and Leeds were hardly troubling City.

Haaland a justified addition

City’s performance against Leeds was a professional one, but they weren’t at their impressive, intense standard that we have seen lately. Instead, Guardiola’s side were more comfortable with possession and exploiting Leeds’ weaknesses – set pieces – rather than aggressively pressing them and turning the game into a basketball-esque fixture.

But it was also noticeable that City lacked a focal point, which Erling Haaland will be when he arrives at the Etihad Stadium. The Norwegian’s powerful, towering presence in the final third is something that City have lacked over the past few years and it gives the team someone else to aim at when pumping the ball long rather than playing out from defence.

Haaland has scored 21 goals in as many Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund, using his physical strength but frightening pace to best effect. He will thrive in City’s system given that he will be a lethal finisher in a team that creates chances for fun.

Gabriel Jesus continues to prove his worth

Since reports emerged that Jesus was weighing up whether he may leave City at the end of the season, he has continued to impress. Guardiola has given the Brazilian plenty of opportunities and he has repaid the faith of the manager by finding the back of the net consistently.

The arrival of Haaland may mean that Jesus is surplus to requirements, but his recent displays will lead many to question whether he could still have a role to play under Guardiola. Arsenal have been linked with the versatile forward, with Jesus seen as the striker that could spearhead their attack for many years to come as Mikel Arteta looks to complete his side’s rebuild.

Jesus was impressive against Leeds in a fixture where he was starved of opportunities. His goal highlighted how influential he can be when racing in behind and playing on the last man, and he would be a very different option to Haaland next season.

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