MANCHESTER City are expected to beat Sheffield United in the weekend’s early kick-off and extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven matches.
Yet many of those who will have tipped Pep Guardiola’s side to triumph over the Blades will have done so rather begrudgingly. And this is no surprise.
Man City are, at the moment, hamstrung, mostly by injuries to key players and to some extent a loss of confidence.
But a dominant and purposeful victory at the Etihad today would go some way to alleviating the glum mood that had prevailed, even amid games that they did not lose.
For too long, or at least since Guardiola assumed the helm in the blue half of Manchester in 2016, we have come to expect nothing else but the sleek, scintillating football that has become synonymous with the Spaniard.
It hasn’t panned out that way so far this season, or last, when City relinquished the league title that they won twice on the trot.
Most of that has been put down to injuries, and quite rightly so.
The absence through injury of Sergio Aguero (barring two brief appearances), and at different times Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte and more recently Nathan Ake, compounded by the departures of David Silva (in the off-season) and Vincent Kompany (last season), has caused untold damage to the aspirations of City.
But Guardiola seems to be getting to grips with things now, despite the setbacks. The recent signing of Ruben Dias looks a decent move and should help as they continue to regain their confidence — enough at least to see off their Sheffield visitors.
Far from the dizzying heights of last season when they returned to the Premier League from the Championship and hovered for sometime among the top six before finishing in a commendable ninth place, manager Chris Wilder’s side has struggled in this campaign.
That pain is likely to continue today and City should win easily.
If Leeds do come away with a home win against Leicester, it will probably be by the odd goal. A draw in the Monday night encounter at Elland Road, is a bet backed by most.
Having said that, home-ground advantage may just tip the scales in Leeds’ favour — and I’m going with that.
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