Leeds Utd 0
Manchester City 4 (Rodri 13, Ake 54, G Jesus 78, Fernandinho 90+3)
Most folk expected Leeds to lose this game and most folks were therefore not disappointed. Some of us hoped for a minor miracle and a boatload of luck that might have just grabbed us a point but there were no miracles on offer and such luck as was there for us was all of the bad variety, mainly in more injury woes.
Manchester City are, along with Liverpool, in a class of two in the Premier League and they once again demonstrated just how good they are with a clinical and dominant display during which Leeds were pretty much second best in all departments. Even our most skilful player, Raphinha would not, in his current form, get in this City side. We need more from the Brazilian in these next four games. Having said that, for large parts of the game Leeds held City at bay and we also had a couple of spells where, had we been more clinical in front of goal or had a bit of luck, we might have made the game even closer. Our undoing though was giving away two set-piece goals, a recurrent theme this season that could well still become a recurring nightmare.
You somehow can’t imagine the City players being undone by two such basic set-piece deliveries as we succumbed to today but that was only a detail really, City were quicker, cleverer and yet just as fit and spirited as we were all over the pitch.
It still rankles though that we continually fail at set-piece situations, especially since we continue to give away so many free-kicks! 13 we handed to City today whereas they only committed 3 fouls all game according to referee Paul Tierney, although I have to say, yet again, today’s ref did appear to look at our tackles somewhat differently to those made by City players! We are used to that though. So, a 13th-minute free-kick on the City left was met by the head of Rodri who glanced it perfectly past Meslier and then Ruben Dias was given the freedom of Elland Road to nod down a back post header following a corner which fell at the feet of Nathan Ake who again seemed to be treated to all the time in the world to knock the ball home. 2 – 0 and we all knew the game was up.
Leeds had hardly created anything to worry Ederson in the City goal in the first half but, with the score at 2 – 0, we did at least start to attack them a tad without ever really threatening to overturn their lead. Ederson has just as much quality about him as the rest of the City team and so, when we did test him, he was up to it. The final two City goals came late in the game but I’d tend to agree with Jesse Marsch that 2 – 0 would actually have been a fairer scoreline for the game.
Our luck on the injury front continues to dog us. Losing Stuart Dallas just after the break was yet another blow as was losing Liam Cooper ahead of kick-off and it looks like Dallas may well now be another we will not see again this season. Dan James replaced Dallas in yet another reshuffle. The arrival of Joffy Gelhardt on the pitch just after the hour mark seemed to act as the catalyst for that much brighter late spell from Leeds and I have to say I still think he should be starting; he creates havoc whenever he’s on the pitch and the one thing we are lacking is someone to put the ball in the net. I must be missing something as Marsch seems not to be inclined to use Joffy any more than Bielsa did.
Our game became even more important as we absorbed the news of Burnley’s win at Watford that pushed us down one more position in the table. Burnley’s renaissance since Sean Dyche left is more marked even than our own post-Bielsa and we are all now obviously hoping that Chelsea can wallop Everton tomorrow. Our defeat to City was never going to be a significant result this season… I still have the home defeat to Newcastle and, even more so, the 3 – 0 battering at Goodison down as the biggest failures of the season and the ones that we might yet come to see as deadly to our survival chances.
So, four games to go and, potentially six points still to find. It increasingly looks as though we’ll be going to Brentford looking for a result down there but let’s see what Chelsea can do for us!
Possession 40% 60%
Shots 7 19
On Target 2 6
Corners 3 6
Fouls 13 3