Marcelo Bielsa challenges Ezgjan Alioski to step up against Man City

Marcelo Bielsa challenges Ezgjan Alioski to fill the void left by Man City loanee Jack Harrison… who is not eligible to face his parent club as Leeds prepare to host Pep Guardiola’s men in the Premier League

  • Leeds host Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday evening
  • Jack Harrison, who has starred for Leeds, will miss out against his parent club
  • Ezgjan Alioski is set to replace Harrison against the Premier League giants
  • North Macedonia international Alioski has yet to start a Premier League game 
  • Bielsa has lavished Guardiola with praise as their teams prepare to clash 

Ezgjan Alioski appears set to make his first Premier League start in Leeds’ home game against Manchester City on Saturday.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa gave the broadest of hints that the North Macedonia international will replace Jack Harrison, who is ineligible to face his parent club.

Harrison has played a starring role for Bielsa’s side in their first three Premier League matches after City agreed in July that the 23-year-old could start his third season-long loan at Elland Road.

Ezgjan Alioski will look to capitalise on Jack Harrison’s absence against Manchester City

‘When a player comes out of the XI and another player comes in and you have to give an opinion on this, we have to mix a lot of common places,’ Bielsa said.

‘Harrison is very important, we’re sad that he’s not going to play. Alioski is able to do as well or better than Harrison, (but) then after this there is the game, where you have to show it.’

Bielsa has no new injury concerns, but admitted the continued absence of playmaker Pablo Hernandez due to a groin strain was a blow.

‘Pablo is a very important player for our offensive game,’ Bielsa said. ‘More than his experience, he brings a lot of creativity. Not having him means we will be less creative.’

Harrison scored with a brilliant solo effort in Leeds’ 4-3 opening-day defeat against Liverpool

Leeds sit seventh in the table, taking six points from their first three matches while adopting the same high-press, high-energy tactics that swept them to the Sky Bet Championship title.

That same approach saw them lose narrowly at champions Liverpool on the opening day and Pep Guardiola’s side can expect more of the same at Elland Road.

‘It’s one of the biggest games in the Premier League,’ Bielsa said. ‘We will try to play the way we always do. We wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.’

Guardiola’s admiration for Bielsa has been well-documented since the Argentinian arrived in West Yorkshire just over two years ago.

Pep Guardiola is a long-time admirer of Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds have started the season well

Bielsa played down the notion he was Guardiola’s mentor, insisting the younger Spaniard’s success had been achieved on his own terms.

‘First of all he’s imaginative. He’s able to instantly create solutions to problems that he comes across,’ Bielsa said.

‘Another thing that distinguishes him as a top coach is that what he proposes, he is able to implement.

The continued absence of Pablo Hernandez continues to be a blow for Leeds boss Bielsa 

‘Guardiola imagines football in a freedom type of way, but to imagine football this way doesn’t mean the players are going to act the same way.

‘To propose a solution to the game, to be in line with what the player can do and that they don’t need a lot of time to incorporate it.

‘For me, what I have just said is one of the biggest praises you can give a coach and I don’t know too many coaches, in my humble opinion, who would be deserving of this type of praise.’

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