Roses Rivalry: Manchester United v Leeds United – Match Analysis

Roses rivalry may not have the same competitive edge like the Manchester derby or the North-West derby but it’s still a fierce rivalry that neither set of supporters want to lose. But the Roses rivalry had obviously missed the big stage. Last time a Roses Rivalry took place in the big stage was way back in February, 2003. Leeds went down that season and never came back, until 2020. Marcelo Bielsa’s swashbuckling style of football had Leeds fans longing to this fixture. Manchester United on the other had picked up 16 out of a possible 18 points from their last 6 league matches. Although, the terrible home form kept everyone on the edge of their seats for this rivalry to resume once again on the big stage.


The Red Devils are notorious for their slow starts to the matches. Going down early had become far too a regular occurrence. But for once, it was different. Manchester United started the match in an electrifying way and rushed to a 2-0 lead in no time, with both goals coming from Scott McTominay. Then it was just an open end to end football match where one knew that more goals will follow. And they did. United put 4 more past Leeds and Leeds also scored 2. A 6-2 score line is emphatic, regardless of any circumstances. And Manchester United will be ecstatic to put one past their fierce rivals, in a grand way too.

Manchester United were brilliant on the night

First Half Analysis

It is really difficult the last time Manchester United made such an electrifying start to a football match. United had the lead within the first 70 seconds. And by the 3rd minute, they had doubled the lead. Both goals were courtesy of late runs from Scott McTominay, who was afforded the space to hurt Leeds. If his first time strike in the 2nd minute was a magnificent one, his second one was arguably even better. The control, step over and the precise finish would vindicate him playing as a forward in his early days in the academy.

McTominay drilling in his first goal of the night

But nothing was going to deter Leeds from their attacking intent. And they attacked, with all they had. And that left large amount of spaces in the midfield. United’s 3rd goal was a result of another situation of United overloading a rather emptied midfield. Fred found Martial, who was tackled cleanly but the ball fell to Bruno Fernandes, who made absolutely no mistake in slotting home. Leeds have the worst set-piece defending record in the league. And it showed why as both Martial and Lindelof made unchallenged runs from a corner and the duo combined to score United’s 4th. Leeds did score one of their own through Liam Cooper, who headed home from a corner. United went in to half time with a 4-1 lead and it was very richly deserved.

Bruno Fernandes was brilliant as usual

Second Half Analysis

The second half started exactly like the way the first half went. Leeds pressed hard to get back into the game, United trying to kill off the game once and for all. Leeds did have some great chances. Specially Raphinha had the entire goal at his mercy on the 66th minute, however David De Gea pulled off one of the saves of the season to deny it. 2 minutes later, Daniel James latched on to a pass from McTominay and finished with his left foot. Then Martial won a penalty which Bruno converted. Leeds did pull one back through Stuart Dallas, but United were out of sight by then.

De Gea with one of the saves of the season

Final Thoughts

This match between Manchester United and Leeds United will be remembered for the flurry of attacking football on offer. On the day, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got the better of Bielsa. Everything was spot on starting from the eleven that started the game(which did raise quite a lot of eyebrows) to the tactics. Solskjaer had the answers to Bielsa’s high risk approach of going to man to man high press.  Leeds wanted to take the game to Manchester United and for a large part of the game, they did that. But the red devils were far too good for their rivals, far too ruthless.

The win moves United up into 3rd place in the table after a string of good results. 19 points out of a possible 21 is quite impressive for a team often brandished “inconsistent”. Whether or not United can challenge for the title remains up in the air for discussion. For the time being, United will just want to continue winning. And an emphatic win like this doesn’t harm that at all.

Author: Ayan Jana

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