Amidst all the drama created by the now-suspended Super League nobody wanted, Manchester United look to get their heads straight & maintain their impressive winning run in the Premier League against arch-rivals Leeds United.
A game normally marred by controversy, heated action & lots of goals, this one will be special being United’s first since the Super League announcement. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has been left to answer questions by themselves, but they’ll aim to do so on the pitch with a dominant, efficient performance to continue their incredible away unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Leeds United Likely XI
Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Strujik, Alioski, Phillips, Costa, Dallas, Roberts, Harrison, Bamford
Raphinha & Rodrigo Moreno are doubtful after missing the Liverpool game.
Manchester United Likely XI
Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Cavani
Anthony Martial is still injured, while Eric Bailly might be available after recovering from Covid-19.
Leeds United vs Manchester United Preview
After whatever has happened over the last few days, Man United’s players will definitely be mentally affected by it. But if it’s one side that can come back from adversity, it’s Solskjaer’s side – which has done a formidable job to solidify their stance on the 2nd spot since that 1-6 loss to Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season.
They face a Leeds side unbeaten in their last 5 games. Thankfully for the Red Devils, they haven’t been beaten away from home in the league since January 2020. Despite all the off-the-pitch drama, they’ve picked up a surge of momentum in recent weeks on the pitch to surge ahead in the top-4 battle.
Solskjaer’s side embarrassed Leeds with a 6-2 win earlier this season but have to be cautious against a side hell-bent on revenge. Having enacted their own revenge on Spurs last week, they know how vicious a hungry side can be. The Red Devils will, however, get a lot of scoring chances because of Leeds’ open-ended style & need to pounce on them!
Bruno Fernandes hasn’t scored a PL goal since the Manchester Derby win, but this is the perfect game for him to bounce back. He loves scoring in away games and with Leeds almost guaranteed to give him free space & opportunities in the final third, Bruno must take them to get back to scoring ways.
Edinson Cavani & Mason Greenwood have both been in splendid scoring form & aim to continue that by getting into promising areas inside the box & putting their clinical finishing to good use. Marcus Rashford hopefully replicates his heroics against Burnley, speeding past players & being more decisive in the final third to break Leeds defensive spine.
Paul Pogba seems to be in his best form in years & he’ll be pumped to spark up the derby. With his creativity, physicality & movement – the Frenchman is key to kickstart counter-attacking chances for his side. Scott McTominay – who scored a brilliant brace in the reverse game against Leeds – should start in a deeper role to counter Leeds’ attacking style.
But the Red Devils have to be super careful about their defending because Leeds’ attack can be extremely ruthless. Bielsa’s side has scored 50 goals this season – with only the PL top-7 outscoring them. Patrick Bamford is an unpredictable threat up front who can score from a variety of different situations. Stuart Dallas can often transform from midfielder to striker with ease, sneaking into key areas to threaten.
Helder Costa also has the creative spark in his game, while Jack Harrison is another unique winger capable of scoring goals cutting in from the left. Bielsa’s side are extremely well-drilled & tactically astute to cause up a storm in any side’s defence and their ability to score equally well from open play & set-pieces can turn into a nightmare for the Red Devils.
Harry Maguire had a surprisingly wobbly game against Burnley. He must be faultless in this big game. Along with the composed Victor Lindelof, he must maintain a strong defensive line to frustrate Leeds. Luke Shaw & Aaron Wan-Bissaka must keep things clean in the wings and also add more thrust to their side’s attacking game by creating promising chances.
Man United can expect an exhilarating contest against Leeds & it won’t be as easy as it was last time. To maintain their great run, the Red Devils have to be at their ruthless best in counter-attacks, defend strongly & take an early advantage to complete a league double over their long-time rivals.
Like the last game, this should also be an open-ended thrilling contest with lots of goals. But I think Man United has enough momentum to keep their winning streak going. Going for a 3-2 win for the Red Devils.