Leeds United vs Manchester United Preview

Leeds United host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon in a huge match for both teams. United remain some way off confirming their Top Four spot but a 2-0 win over Brighton moved them to fourth for now. Arsenal and Spurs both have games in hand so United have to keep winning and hope their North-London rivals drop points.

Manchester United to replicate Ole’s performances over Leeds?

What’s more is this game will show where United are based on their last few matches against Leeds. At Old Trafford, United have hit eleven past Leeds in two games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the fluid football and a high-pressing counter-attack style wrecking havoc against Bielsa’s side. At Elland Road last season, United totally nullified Leeds’ attack but missed chances denied them the double and, more-or-less, ended United’s late bid for the title. This game is a good sign of where United are in comparison to the opening day of the campaign and whether Rangnick can replicate or improve on Ole’s flawless tactics against Leeds.

Leeds need wins soon or face the drop.

Leeds are in the relegation battle. Despite what was an impressive return to Premier League football last season, Leeds have struggled this season. While they are six points clear of the Relegation Zone, they are defensively all over the place. They have conceded the second most goals in the Premier League and average two goals conceded/game. In comparison to last season, they have 12 points fewer than last campaign. They also had a better goal difference by a margin of +22 (20/21: +3, 21/22: -19). Leeds remain in bad form with just one win in five and despite coming back from 3-1 down to level against Villa, a damning loss to an out-of-form Everton last weekend showed they are still in trouble.

Manchester United can capitalise on Leeds’ messy defending and make similar statements to their last two Old Trafford wins at what will be a raucous Elland Road. This will be the first time since 2011 that a full Elland Road has hosted Manchester United and the fans will be ready to get at the away side. This will be a wonderful atmosphere for the neutral but, certainly a hostile one for Rangnick’s reds. Mentally they have to be at it and they need to silence the crowd as quickly as possible. Here’s all you need to know:

Match Information:

Teams: Leeds United and Manchester United
Date: Sunday 20th February 2022
KO Time: 14:00 GMT
Stadium: Elland Road
Managers: Marcelo Bielsa and Ralf Rangnick
Referee: Paul Tierney

Team News:

Leeds United

Leeds remain without Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper due to long-term injuries. Junior Firpo returned to training recently and may have to make a quick recovery with Stuart Dallas limping off against Everton. Four crucial players missing for Leeds but former-Red, Daniel James is in good form and could haunt his old team after an impressive work-horse role in the reverse fixture for United.

Manchester United

United will have Raphael Varane back after missing out of the Brighton game with illness in the warm-up. However, the impressive performance of Lindelof and Maguire against the Seagulls may see him left out and rested for the Atletico match on Wednesday. Edinson Cavani returned to training only to get a stomach bug and will miss another game in a torrid, injury-hit campaign. Nemanja Matic is back after missing the last two matches with a shin injury.

Leeds vs Manchester United Interesting Facts:

  • Manchester United’s last Premier League defeat to Leeds was in 2002 at Elland Road in a 1-0 win. United are currently on a 5-game unbeaten run in the Premier League against Leeds (W3 D2).
  • If United avoid defeat tomorrow, they will be on their best unbeaten run of the Premier League campaign (7 games). The last time they managed this was in a 14-game unbeaten run between January 2021 and May 2021.
  • Daniel James is set to become the seventh player to play for both Leeds United and Manchester United. He joins the illustrious company of Dennis Irwin, Rio Ferdinand, Eric Cantona, Alan Smith, Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen.
  • Three current Manchester United players have 3+ goal contribution against Leeds United – Scott McTominay (2G 1A), Paul Pogba (4A) and Bruno Fernandes (5G 1A).
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored against Leeds United. Should he score tomorrow, it would be the 122nd different team he has netted against in club football.

Predicted XI and Score:

Predicted Team:

I expect a few changes with a crucial game on Wednesday. United had to dig deep against Brighton despite the away side having 10 men and so need a bit of freshening up. I would desperately like to see Aaron Wan-Bissaka against Jack Harrison. I think the English winger will bully Dalot and Wan-Bissaka deserves a chance. Harry Maguire and Lindelof should keep their places with Varane being rested for his return to Madrid. Alex Telles has done well against Raphinha before but I do think he may start midweek and Shaw keeps his place for now.

In midfield, against Leeds you need energy and counter-pressing. McTominay and Fred are tried and tested and have beaten Leeds’ midfield time after time. No-brainer. In attack, Fernandes will start but with Pogba on one wing and Elanga as a pressing winger on the right to balance creativity, pressing intensity and pace on the counter. Leaving impact subs of Rashford and Sancho on the bench if necessary but also to rest up for Wednesday. Of course, up front, Ronaldo will start and hope that his stunning strike against Brighton brings back his goalscoring touch.

United to use a similar team to the opening day demolition at Old Trafford

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Elanga, Fernandes, Pogba; Ronaldo

Predicted Score:

Rangnick likes to counter-press off the ball and dominate on the ball. If United can play out of Leeds’ press and force mistakes out of them like they did in the second half against Brighton, this will be a good game to watch. The crowd will be baying for goals and a fast start from the home side and that could fall into United’s hands. I can see United winning well but only if they get out of the blocks early and dampen the mood of the crowd.

United to win 0-3.

Author: Arjun Handa

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