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|Match Result and Total Goals||Odds|
|Manchester City and Over 3.5||-105
|Manchester City and Under 3.5||+135
|Leeds United and Over 3.5||+4000
|Leeds United and Under 3.5||+1750
Marcelo Bielsa is not the type of manager to simply pack men behind the ball against the Premier League champions, and that approach could produce an open and entertaining encounter.
Back Manchester City and a total of over 3.5 goals. (-105)
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Manchester City’s lead at the top of the Premier League table is slender. Just one point separates them from second-placed Liverpool, with third-placed Chelsea an additional point behind. City’s advantage could easily be overturned in the upcoming midweek round of fixtures. It is possible that the defending champions could be third in the standings by the time they travel to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United on Sunday.
Yet although there is currently little separating City from their two main rivals at the top of the division, the sportsbooks list Pep Guardiola’s team as the clear favorites to win the title. Draft Kings price City at -175, with Liverpool at +250 and Chelsea at +500. Given how close all three teams are in the table, the gap between their respective odds might seem surprisingly wide. In fact, it makes total sense.
Liverpool stand to lose Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations in January. They do not have the same strength in depth as City, particularly in attacking areas. Chelsea meanwhile are simply not performing as well as Guardiola’s side. The underlying statistics are instructive: Chelsea’s expected goals difference is +13.2, which is considerably inferior to Liverpool’s +26.8 and City’s 26.4. At that rate will find it harder to maintain their current form for the remainder of the season.
Now that City have got their noses in front, they will be hard to catch. It would be premature to rule either Liverpool or Chelsea out of the title race at this stage, but neither challenger can afford to let the gap at the top get much bigger. Guardiola’s side started slowly last season before going on to win the league comfortably. Liverpool and Chelsea have got stronger since then, but City remain the team to beat.
Chelsea could easily be four points behind Manchester City, rather than two. They left it late to see off the challenge of Leeds on Saturday, with Jorginho’s penalty in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time giving the Blues a 3-2 win. It was a heartbreaking way for Marcelo Bielsa’s side to lose having fought so valiantly throughout the match.
Not many pundits gave Leeds a chance of avoiding defeat at Stamford Bridge after it was revealed that Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper would all miss out. Yet Bielsa’s team did not feel sorry for themselves, and instead went out in their usual attack-minded manner. It almost earned them a 2-2 draw at the home of the European champions.
Nevertheless, some Leeds supporters might be beginning to worry about second season syndrome. Injuries have certainly not helped so far this season, although their impact is exacerbated by Bielsa’s insistence on having a small squad. Leeds have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net at times, while only four teams have conceded more goals.
The Whites have won just three of their 16 games thus far and sit five points above the relegation zone. Despite finishing ninth last term, Leeds would probably settle for survival this time around.
Leeds drew 1-1 with Manchester City in the opening weeks of last season. It was one of the most entertaining encounters of the whole campaign, as the two teams went toe-to-toe under the driving rain at Elland Road. Leeds were facing one of the strongest sides in world soccer but they still played on the front foot.
Bielsa is a dogmatic coach who never changes his ways, so we will not see Leeds attempt to shut up shop on Tuesday. Guardiola was critical of the defensive tactics employed by Wolverhampton Wanderers in City’s 1-0 win on Saturday, but there is no danger of Bielsa replicating Bruno Lage in that regard.
That is good news for any neutrals hoping for an entertaining match, but it might not bode well for Leeds. It is difficult to shut down City’s attack regardless of how you play against them, but Leeds’ tendency to afford their opponents plenty of space in the final third will leave the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus licking their lips.
There is a danger that the floodgates could open if City get the first goal early on, with Leeds likely to continue attacking regardless of the scoreline. After City’s largely uneventful 1-0 victory over Wolves last time out, this could be a high-scoring affair – back a home win and over 3.5 goals.
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|Manchester City vs Leeds United Information|
|Teams||Manchester City vs Leeds United|
|Location||Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England|
|Time||Tuesday, 14 December 2021, 15:00 PM EST|
|How to watch||NBC Sports|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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