Peep! Stuart Attwell signals half-time and the players adjourn to their respective dressing-rooms. After a shaky start, Leeds grew into the game and defended reasonably well, restricting Erling Haaland to two chances which were saved by Ilan Meslier, while Jack Grealish also missed an easy chance he should have scored.
However, all Leeds’ good work was undone with the final move of the first half, when Kevin De Bruyne squared the ball across the face of the penalty area. It was helped on to Mahrez by Rodri, who was again on hand to prod home when Meslier saved from the Algeria international.
City lead! A sweeping City move ends with Rodri firing home from close range after Ilan Meslier can only parry a Riyad Mahrez shot into his path.
44 min: Rico Lewis advances down the inside right, latching on to a flick around the corner from Kevin De Bruyne. He squares the ball for Grealish, who is leaning back as he shoots high over the bar. With the goal gaping, that’s a terrible Miss.
43 min: Grealish dinks the ball from just outside the Leeds penalty area, trying to pick out a run from Mahrez along the edge of the six-yard box. Mahrez tries to flick the ball goalwards from a tight angle but succeeds only in sending it wide.
40 min: Manchester City free-kick, wide on the right. With Leeds expecting the ball to be floated into the penalty area, De Bruyne plays it low across the edge of the area for Grealish to run on to and shoot goalwards. Apparently caught unawares, Grealish reacts a little too late and sends his shot sailing high over the bar. It was an excellent plan in theory but the execution from City’s record signing was poor.
38 min: Wilfried Gnonto advances down the inside left with Rico Lewis backing off him. Seeing space open up, the Italian squares the ball but is unable to pick out a Leeds United teammate.
36 min: Haaland takes advantage of an Adam Forshaw slip and advances on the Leeds penalty area. Running into traffic, he plays the ball a little wide to Grealish, whose shot from eight yards is blocked by Rasmus Kristensen.
34 min: More good play from Meslier, who is quick to the edge of his six-yard box to prevent Riyad Mahrez from dinking a through ball over him and into the Leeds goal.
33 min: Jack Grealish skis over from close range at the far post after connecting with a Riyad Mahrez cross. He seemed caught in two minds.
31 min: Save! Standing just adjacent to the penalty spot after rushing out of his goal, Ilan Meslier blocks an Erling Haaland shot with his left knee. The Manchester City striker looked a certainty to score after being played in behind by Kevin De Bruyne.
30 min: Manchester City corner, the first of the game. It’s awarded after Rasmus Kristensen stuck out a leg to block a Jack Grealish shot from a tight angle. Kevin De Bruyne’s low set-piece delivery carries all the way through to Leeds goalkeeper Ilan Meslier.
27 min: Leeds win a free-kick in midfield for an indiscretion by Ilkay Gundogan. With Manchester City defending with a high line outside their penalty area, Marc Roca floats the ball over the top. Referee Stuart Attwell penalizes Leeds captain Liam Cooper for a shove in the back of John Stones.
24 min: An ambitious cross-field ball from Rodri aimed towards Mahrez goes out for a Leeds United throw-in.
22 min: Pascal Struijk brings down Jack Grealish, leaving the City winger in need of treatment. It looked a foul but the challenge goes unpunished, much to Grealish’s disgust. You could, at a push, argue that Grealish simply ran into the Leeds full-back, who was under no obligation to get out of his way.
19 min: Adam Forshaw is penalized for a foul on Rico Lewis and City have a free-kick about 40 yards from the Leeds United goal. Riyad Mahrez plays the ball short to Ilkay Gundogan, who advances a few yards and lets fly with a low daisy-cutter. His drive fizzes narrowly wide of Ilan Meslier’s upright. That was close!
17 min: Ilkay Gundogan flings himself at a Kevin De Bruyne cross after good work to win the ball in midfield by Riyad Mahrez. He’s unable to make contact.
14 min: Sam Greenwood combines with Rasmus Kristensen out by the right touchline but a vaguely promising Leeds attack breaks down when Marc Roca is penalised, somewhat unfairly, for a foul on Jack Grealish. On the touchline, Leeds boss Jesse Marsch makes his dissatisfaction with the decision very, very clear.
10 minutes: Manchester City try to play their way through the centre, Rodri linking up with Kevin De Bruyne. Marc Roca sticks a leg in and wins the ball back for Leeds United, who remain seriously under the cosh as they try to weather this early storm.
8 min: Brenden Aaronson is late cantering on his way down the right flank for Leeds but is dispossessed by Rodri. The American appeals in vain for a free-kick. It looked to me like he simply ran into the Manchester City midfielder.
7 min: Rico Lewis tees up De Bruyne just outside the Leeds penalty area. The Belgian whips a venomous shot high and wide. It’s all City in these early stages.
6 min: Kevin De Bruyne sends one of his trademark dipping balls in behind the Leeds United defence, trying to pick out the run from Erling Haaland. Ilan Meslier is quick off his line to intercept.
4 min: Having survived that early scare, Leeds try to get into the game. Pascal Struijk and Wilfried Gnonto combine down the inside left but the cross towards Brenden Aaronson in the City penalty area is wayward.
1 min: A very early chance for City as Ilan Meslier runs off his line to try to stop Erling Haaland lifting the ball over him from outside the penalty area. The City striker had pounced on a bouncing ball upfield from Nathan Ake and attempted to lob the onrushing Leeds goalkeeper. Meslier got enough of a hand on the ball to take any pace off it and steer it away from his goal.
1 min: Following a minute’s applause for the late World Cup winner George Cohen, play gets under way. City kick off, their players wearing red and black shirts, black shorts and black and red socks. The players of Leeds wear all white.
Not long now: The teams emerge from the Elland Road tunnel, with both sets of players wearing tracksuit tops over their shirts to keep out the Christmas chill. Liam Cooper leads out the home side, while Ilkay Gundogan skippers Manchester City.
Elland Road is packed. One of the more lively grounds in the Premier League, the home side will need every decibel of their fans’ can generate on their behalf tonight. It’s difficult to see past a Manchester City win but… you never know. Having said that, I’m predicting a fairly emphatic City win.
Leeds United: Meslier, Kristensen, Struijk, Cooper, Koch, Roca, Forshaw, Aaronson, Gnonto, Greenwood, Rodrigo.
Subs: Robles, Ayling, Firpo, Summerville, Harrison, Llorente, Gyabi, Gelhardt, Klich.
Manchester United: Ederson, Lewis, Ake, Stones, Akanji, Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne, Grealish, Mahrez, Haaland.
Subs: Moreno, Walker, Phillips, Cancelo, Laporte, Silva, Gomez, Foden, Palmer.
Ilan Meslier starts in goal for Leeds after recovering from glandular fever. Crysencio Summerville starts on the bench and with Tyler Adams is suspended, Sam Greenwood and Adam Forshaw start.
Leeds born Manchester City striker Erling Haaland is an obvious starter against his father Alfie’s former club, where he will go up against his former RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch. Jack Grealish also lines up against Leeds, with Cole Palmer making way from the side that started in the midweek Carabao Cup win over Liverpool. Ederson is back in goal for City, while John Stones is in for Aymeric Laporte in the heart of City’s defence.
Tonight’s match officials
Early team news
Leeds United are without Tyler Adams, the USA captain suspended tonight on the back of his late dismissal against Tottenham Hotspur last time out. Long term absentees Stuart Dallas (broken leg) and Archie Gray (ankle) are also sidelined. Goalkeeper Ilan Meslier is also a doubt with illness, while striker Patrick Bamford, wingers Crysencio Summerville and Jack Harrison, centre-back Liam Cooper and midfielder Mateusz Klich are also major doubts. Klich is expected to leave the club in January, with MLS club DC United having tabled a generous offer.
Manchester City will be without Kalvin Phillips, who Pep Guardiola has deemed to be carrying too much timber upon his return from World Cup duty with England. Oh to be as “overweight” as the apparently lardy defensive midfielder. Presumably still whopping it up somewhere in Argentina as he celebrates his pivotal role in his country’s World Cup win, Julian Alvarez is also unavailable. Centre-back Ruben Diaz will also miss out with a hamstring injury.
Season’s greetings one and all. The festive calendar continues with tonight’s match between Leeds United and Manchester City at Elland Road. Despite being white-hot favorites to retain their title, the reigning champions are in third place, eight points behind league leaders Arsenal.
On their most recent Premier League excursion back in mid-November, they lost 2-1 at home to Brentford. Leeds United, their hosts tonight, lost by the odd goal of seven in a thriller at White Hart Lane on the same day. With both sides looking to get back to winning ways in the top flight tonight, kick-off in Yorkshire is at 8pm. Stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.