Premier League action at Elland Road returned last night but it was a tough watch from a Leeds perspective as Man City brushed the Whites aside in a 3-1 win.
It’s no less than Pep Guardiola’s men deserved after dominating the vast majority of the match, but Leeds had their moments in flashes, particularly with the younger contingent aiming to keep impressing Jesse Marsch.
Headlining that discussion right now is Willy Gnonto, who earned a second consecutive league start as Jack Harrison remained out of the starting lineup.
Chances to really threaten were limited for the Italian and Leeds, but he did his part to progress the ball very well in transition for the hosts.
We’ve seen in glimpses how adept the teen is when it comes to retaining possession while under pressure, and that was evident even against one of the best in the world.
Quiz: Can you remember Leeds United’s last 15 results v Newcastle United ahead of NYE clash?
Four out of six dribbles in the match is coupled by an impressive four progressive runs (stats via Wyscout), while registering a 71% passing accuracy in a game where City didn’t only dominate, but suffocated Leeds with effective pressing all over the pitch.
Gnonto has been a thorn in the side of a lot of teams, drawing pressure to the point he’s quite often fouled, and he was hauled down four times against Man City, two to relieve pressure, and two in dangerous areas for a Sam Greenwood set-piece:
His drive brought two shots and one shot assist as he dragged key players into areas they felt uncomfortable, including a mazing run and stylish nutmeg on Rodri that led to a blocked shot in the second half.
Holding his own under such unrelenting pressure from the City midfield and defence didn’t faze the youngster, though, as he still won seven of 11 of his offensive duels.
The fact that Gnonto remained on the pitch for a full 97 minutes while Harrison watched on does say a lot about how much trust Marsch already has in Gnonto to be an impactful player, and that display did little to change his mind.
With Newcastle United up next, Harrison might be hoping to prove to Marsch why he was right to resist the Magpies’ £20million-plus interest in the summer, but Gnonto is more than worth keeping his place over him.