Leeds 1-1 Manchester City: 'Pep Guardiola has questions while Marcelo Bielsa has Leeds here to stay'

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola on the touchline
Guardiola remains unbeaten in all four of his managerial meetings with Bielsa in all competitions

The meeting between Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and the man who shaped his football belief system, Leeds United counterpart Marcelo Bielsa, was never going to be dull.

And so it proved in a magnificently entertaining 1-1 draw at Elland Road, Leeds United responding to earn a point after City, wounded by that 5-2 home loss to Leicester City, threatened to run riot early on.

Bielsa, looking almost spent as he crouched down at the end of a thunderous encounter played out in a Yorkshire deluge, eventually rose to his feet to embrace Guardiola at the conclusion of a compelling spectacle.

And he finally broke out into a smile - he will have been the more satisfied manager as Guardiola reflected on a result that still leaves the City boss with many questions to answer.

Guardiola still has problems as City slip again

In the opening phase of this glorious 90 minutes, it was almost as if City's thrashing at the hands of the Foxes was a bad dream as they ran Leeds United ragged with their pace and movement, Sterling and De Bruyne predictably at the hub.

And yet, as the minutes ticked by, the sort of vulnerability and weakness that brought nine Premier League defeats and wrecked Manchester City's title challenge last season came to the surface once more.

For all the £65m spent on Benfica defender Ruben Dias, this Manchester City side is simply too easy to get at, as Leeds United proved as they created a string of chances.

Dias played in what will surely be Guardiola's first-choice central defensive partnership alongside Aymeric Laporte - but this time the problems were elsewhere meaning City, who created many chances, could still have left Elland Road empty-handed.

Benjamin Mendy, not for the first time, represents an accident waiting to happen at left-back - a liability who has the capacity to wreak real havoc on City's title aspirations.

Leeds United's Helder Costa in action with Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy
Mendy (right) was City's lowest rated player on the BBC Sport player rater with an average score of 3.38

He blundered just before half-time when a lack of ball control and simple awareness allowed Luke Ayling to pinch possession and force a crucial save from Ederson.

If this was an uncharacteristic lapse, rather like Ederson's mistake for the Leeds equaliser, it could be ignored, but Mendy is a player who sprinkles occasional pieces of good play among his mistakes.

Kyle Walker is a real threat going forward but he switches off too often, as he did here in the first half when Ezgjan Alioski stole in unaware - and he should have done better with a header.

And how City miss their master marksman Sergio Aguero, still out injured. If he had been here the result could have been so different. Guardiola will have some job replacing him when the time comes.

City's mental fortitude is also unconvincing. They should have racked up a big lead inside the first half-hour but when they didn't, they became nervous and unsettled, allowing Leeds, who were only too willing to accept the invitation, back in.

In the wider context, City are already reaching the stage where they know they cannot afford to drop too many more points in careless fashion, particularly given Liverpool's ruthless start to the defence of their first title in 30 years.

Leeds United are here to stay

Leeds players celebrate Rodrigo's goal
Rodrigo became the first Spanish player to score for Leeds United in the Premier League

Leeds United may have taken 16 years to get back into the Premier League but on the evidence of what we have seen so far in this campaign they will not being going anywhere for a long time.

They have already given champions Liverpool an almighty scare, only losing 4-3 to a careless late penalty concession at Anfield on the opening weekend, and here it took a selection of fine saves by Ederson to keep them out.

At the centre of it all is the driven, charismatic coaching genius Bielsa, who has brought his team into the top flight without an ounce of fear - and they need be scared of no-one after the manner of their performances against Liverpool and here against City.

Leeds held firm in the face of that early City siege and once they got their chance, they played with pace, verve, energy, threat and astonishing levels of fitness.

Bielsa prowled the touchline throughout, bellowing instructions, his intensity even taking him to the edge of Guardiola's technical area on one occasion.

It is crystal clear, as it was last season when they won promotion so convincingly, that Leeds United's players follow Bielsa's creed with total devotion, making for a potent and richly entertaining combination.

The full-on attacking style and the physical intensity it requires may yet take its toll on Leeds further down the road but what will not change will be the determination of Bielsa and his players to do it his and their way - never a backward step. Not an ounce of fear.

Leeds also do not lack for self-belief - and nor should they after emerging from meetings with champions Liverpool and the side that won the title in the two previous seasons with reputation enhanced.

City have dropped five points in three games. Where will Liverpool drop theirs?

Guardiola hopes he has solved one major problem with the signing of Dias - Manchester City still look like they have many more to solve.

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