The Citizens made a winning start to life after the World Cup last week as they defeated Liverpool 3-2 in the Carabao Cup but now the focus will be fully on keeping their title hopes alive against Jesse Marsch’s side tonight.
Arsenal moved eight points clear of Guardiola’s side with their 3-1 win over West Ham on Boxing Day, while Newcastle United have also moved ahead of City into second place, so three points are a must at Elland Road against a struggling Leeds side.
Last season saw City completely dominate against a defensively woeful Leeds side, as they cruised to a 7-0 win at the Etihad, with Grealish scoring a rare Premier League goal for the Citizens and enjoying one of his best performances since his £100m switch from Aston Villa.
After scoring with a great header in the first half, the England international was described as a “constant threat” by Manchester Evening News’ live blog.
They also wrote: “Grealish has come in for a lot of stick in recent weeks but he looks on it this evening. His goal, the end of a 10-game drought, is sure to bring a confidence boost. He has just gone past a defender with ease and played a great ball into the box, but no one was there to take advantage.”
Since joining the club in the summer of 2021, the 27-year-old has managed just seven goals and four assists in all competitions, with just one goal and no assists to his name so far this campaign.
It is clear that he needs a confidence boost and must start contributing more in attack, otherwise, he risks being labelled a flop and wasting his chance at the Etihad.
However, only Joao Cancelo has contributed more dribbles per game in City’s squad this season, which suggests that Grealish could be extremely dangerous if he can be left one-on-one against Leeds’ defence on Wednesday.
Guardiola has emphasised that it is not all about goals and assists for Grealish, as he waxed lyrical about the former Villa man’s overall performance in a 1-1 draw with Southampton last season.
He said: “The best game he has played since he has been with us, by far. This was an exceptional performance. He played really, really well. I’m talking about when he has the ball, what he has to do. In a team that is so tight, they defend so narrow, it is not easy. He played exceptionally.”
After such an impressive display against the Yorkshire outfit last season, Guardiola must consider handing him a rare start on Wednesday night, in the hope that he can deliver again against a struggling defence, and head into the new year in a more confident mood.