Sunday afternoon will see an old rivalry renewed as Manchester United take on Leeds United at Old Trafford for the first league meeting between the sides since February 2004. We come into this game currently sixth in the table and still with a game in hand on all the other teams.
An Old Rivalry Renewed
This will be the first meeting in the sixteen years and in no doubt will invoke memories of classic games that this fierce rivalry has seen in years gone by. It can be argued this is one of the fixtures that has been missed in the Premier League since Leeds relegation from the top-flight in 2004. United has played more Premier League games against Leeds without losing than against any other club.
Home Form Needs to Improve
However, Old Trafford has not been the fortress it once was as we have only won one of the last eight games on home turf. Only three other teams have picked fewer points at home this season. A more worrying statistic is that Burnley is the only side to score fewer home goals as we have scored three goals in six league games at Old Trafford. We have just scored one goal in the last four home outings. United will not want to equal the unwanted club record of failing to score more than once in eight consecutive top-flight home matches.
What has been more impressive is our away form that keeps us in a strong position within the table. We are currently two points off second-placed Tottenham and still with a game in hand against most sides in the top half.
United come into this fixture on Sunday after coming from behind against Sheffield United on Thursday evening to beat the Blades 3-1. It was the typical start from United with us conceding an early goal. The error by Dean Henderson shows that maybe he will have to bide his time if he is to ultimately become the number one goalkeeper.
We turnaround the game through some brilliant attacking play. Marcus Rashford bagged a brace and Anthony Martial also getting on the scoresheet. It means we have picked up 16 points out of the last 18 in the league.
We go into a very busy period with us facing Everton in the league cup three days after this match. This is followed by league games against Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Aston Villa. It will certainly be a test for Ole’s squad as we have a run of five games in the next 12 days.
Leeds United have been impressive in the way they have played during their first season back in the top-flight. However, there has been much inconsistency from Marcelo Bielsa’s squad just like United. There have seen 5 wins, 6 losses, and 1 draw in their 13 league games so far, which includes two wins out of the last seven.
Their most victory came on Wednesday where they defeated Newcastle United 5-2 at Elland Road. In an ironic twist, this is the third time that Leeds have scored five goals in the last league game before facing Manchester United.
Leeds will be hoping to keep a clean sheet. Three of their away wins this season have come without conceding a goal. However, when they have conceded, they have seen Liverpool, Crystal Palace scored four, and Chelsea three against them.
Manchester United vs Leeds Match Details
Teams: Manchester United vs Leeds United
Date: December 20th, 2020 (Sunday)
KO Time: 16:30 BST
Competition: Premier League
Stadium: Old Trafford
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Marcelo Biesla
Manchester United Team News
Ole Gunnar Solskjær said in the pre-match conference that Edinson Cavani is likely to be available. Though he would probably be on the bench as the manager will give the nod to Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to lead the line.
Dean Henderson’s early error in the game against Sheffield United might see Ole prefer David De Gea in goal. Fred, Scott McTominay, and Luke Shaw will be expected to come back in the starting eleven. The recent performances of Paul Pogba may see him start a third game within a week..
Pre-Match Press Conference
During the pre-match press conference, Ole was asked by the media how much he is looking forward to the game. He said, “I can’t wait. It’s been too long. Of course, I know how much it means for our supporters. I know how much it means for our club but the other bit is it’s a different type of Leeds coming up, with a coach who has really done a great job with them and will test us to the limit.”
Ole will be two years in the United job on Saturday, he was asked to sum up his time so far and whether he’s on course to get this club where you want it. “I know there’s a lot of good work to be done still to get to the standard I want, the level I want. That’s what we’re working on, every single day, but I’ve really enjoyed those two years. Even tough games like this, which make my hair turn even greyer very, very quickly.”
United was hoping to see fans back in the stadium but Manchester still remains in Tier 3 restrictions. Ole was asked how much of a big disappointment that the fans’s return has been delayed again. He said, “this is a delicate question to answer because we want fans into the stadiums. I can’t see why we should stop the fans coming into the stadium, where it’s possible. That’s such a difficult answer to give you but I don’t think it would be any problem for us at Old Trafford to host 2,000 or 4,000 fans as well.”
Leeds United Team News
Leeds will have to do without the services of centre-backs Diego Llorente and Robin Koch, as well as midfielder Adam Forshaw who remained sidelined through injury. Pablo Hernandez will be knocking on the door to be in the starting eleven after he had two assists from the bench in the win over Newcastle.
Though Marcelo Bielsa could name an unchanged side for the United game. Patrick Bamford is expected to lead the forward line. He has scored nine goals in his last 13 league games, so United will have to be wary of his threat.
Manchester United Premier League form: WWWWDW
Manchester United form (all competitions): WLWLDW
Leeds United Premier League form: LDWLLW
- United have earned 16 points out of the last 18 available, winning five games and drawing the other.
- United have not lost at home to Leeds in a league fixture since 1981.
- This is the first league meeting between the teams since a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in February 2004.
- We have only lost one of the last 13 Premier League meetings against Leeds, winning eight and drawing four.
- Manchester United did play Bielsa’s Leeds in the 2019 Summer Pre-season. United won 4-0 with goals from Greenwood, Rashford, Martial and Phil Jones!
- All of Manchester United’s league clean sheets have come at home (3).
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Pogba; Fernandes; Martial, and Rashford.
This match is something that both United and Leeds fans have been looking forward to since their promotion back to the Premier League. Our home form does need to improve if we are continue to make ground on our rivals in the table with results midweek going in our favour.
I expect this game to be an open affair as both teams looked to attack each other. This game would have been perfect to see some fans back in Old Trafford to cheer on the boys. However, I know we will all be cheering on United from home to get the win.
Manchester United 2-1 Leeds United