Pep Guardiola sends Man City warning ahead of Leeds United fixture

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola holds the ball during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on December 22, 2022 in Manchester, England.

Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players that they cannot suffer from a World Cup hangover at Elland Road tonight when they face “the most aggressive team” in the Premier League.

The Blues are in Premier League action for the first time in 47 days when they face Leeds United and the pressure has been nudged up after Arsenal went eight points clear of them with a win on Boxing Day.

City lost their last Premier League fixture before the World Cup, beaten 2-1 by Brentford at the Etihad, but they were impressive in beating Liverpool six days ago in the Carabao Cup fourth round.

Even more of City’s World Cup stars will return to the side tonight, with only tournament winner Julian Alvarez unavailable, but Guardiola knows the perils that come with this fixture.

City’s boss admitted he would have preferred to have played another side on their return to league action and said his side would have to be “alert and careful” to get the job done.

“One of the toughest games. I would have preferred another opponent than Leeds in that moment after the World Cup,” he said.

“They are the most aggressive team in the Premier League, statistically. They don’t give you time to think and you have to be precise, you have to be at a high level to do it in the situations you have, after our defeat against Brentford, and with how strong Arsenal are, as well as the opponents who come from behind.

“We have to be alert and careful because if the distance is bigger, it will be so difficult to catch them.”

City are likely to face a hostile reception from the Elland Road faithful, although there might be a warm welcome for Erling Haaland, who was born in Leeds.

His father, Alf Inge, played for both clubs and had just left Leeds for City when Erling was born. Leeds boss Jesse Marsch also coached Haaland at RB Salzburg and has praised the forward, while also joking he wouldn’t mind if he was unavailable for this game with a tight hamstring.

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