Manchester United travel to face Leeds United at Elland Road in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Ralf Rangnick’s side returned to winning ways in a 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford.
Leeds are not in great form with three defeats, one draw and two wins in their last six matches and at the time of writing, sit in 15th place in the Premier League table just five points above the relegation zone. United sit in fourth place a point ahead of West Ham United with a game in hand.
United will need to find a way to overcome the poor performances and results. Whilst it was a victory over Brighton, it was less than convincing with Brighton playing well against United and them only able to score after 51 minutes and not really able to take advantage over a ten-man team.
This match will need to show more from United. This fixture was a 0-0 draw last season and United should really have the firepower to take advantage of this Leeds side who are not really achieving much this season. Come on United!
Previous meetings with Leeds and their connections with United.
United and Leeds have met 27 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 15 times, drawing eight with Leeds winning four times. United have scored 46 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. Leeds have scored 20 goals, winning no penalties.
United have kept 14 clean sheets in this fixture with Leeds keeping six. The disciplinary history is problematic with United players shown 36 yellow cards and no red cards and Leeds players being shown 52 yellow cards and two red cards.
Freddie Goodwin, Joe Jordan, Johnny Giles, Gordon McQueen, Brian Greenhoff, Gordon Strachan, Arthur Graham, Denis Irwin, Eric Cantona, Lee Sharpe, Rio Ferdinand, Danny Pugh, Alan Smith, Liam Miller, Scott Wootton, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Daniel James played for United and Leeds.
Eric Cantona and Rio Ferdinand are perhaps the best two players who have transferred from Leeds to United in the Premier League era with Leeds’ loss being United’s gain with the prolific Frenchman. Alan Smith was also a good player for United at the time he signed for the club.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leeds in the Premier League at Elland Road on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea needs to keep his place in the team against Leeds. He is in form and a great shot stopper. Granted, there have been weak times with him in goal but I don’t see that as a good enough reason for him to be dropped.
United need to start turning a corner this season and getting this poor form behind them. Each match that is played tends to go the same way. United are good for 30-45 minutes then seem to dwindle in the second half.
I am sure De Gea can continue doing what he’s doing and that should give the defence something to work towards in bettering their game. These players have done well for the last few years and something all of a sudden came unstuck.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw should keep their places in the fullback positions but both will need to better their games, especially in attacking positions. It is possible that both Alex Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will start to get some time on the pitch soon too.
Raphael Varane was due to start against Brighton this week but in the run up to kick off he was replaced by Victor Lindelof because of illness. If he is fine to start, he should for this match as United’s defence will be better with him in the defence.
Harry Maguire should also start this match. His form has been poor in the last few matches but against Brighton, he was more positive, therefore should be given the chance to rediscover his form which can be so much better than it is right now.
Midfield Three: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes played a good game against Brighton and got his reward with his eighth goal of the season in added time. He has largely been frustrated during the past few matches as it has not worked for United but it could hopefully get much better for him.
Paul Pogba has been good for United since he returned from injury and was on the bench against Brighton, coming on in the second half which is when United pushed for the win. His fitness needs to be stepped up and now he should be reaching full match fitness.
Scott McTominay has also played well in the holding role in the midfield and should keep his place. Nemanja Matic might well be fit enough for the bench and could come on and do a job late in the match, if he is fit enough to do that.
Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho
Cristiano Ronaldo ended his goalscoring drought against Brighton and will be seeking to get back to scoring regularly, especially with the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid coming up. He should start this match seeing as Edinson Cavani will not be fully fit.
Jadon Sancho is the player in form at this time. He should start for definite. With him in the form that he is in, he could punish Leeds in a way similar to the 6-2 victory over them last season, but United will need to be more creative than they have in recent weeks.
Marcus Rashford should start in the right-wing position in this match as he could bring a better impact than he has recently. He really needs to get firing again, like he has the last few seasons. United will need him to be in the right form to gain some ground this season.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Jesse Lingard, Fred, Nemanja Matic; Anthony Elanga
The substitutions will need to be correct for this match. The midfield will tire as the game grows on and instead of sticking with that and weakening the midfield for the remainder of the match. United should have one or two players in this position on the bench.
Dean Henderson will remain on the bench in this match with Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka available in a defensive capacity with Telles who could become an attacking player in this instance.
Jesse Lingard, Fred and Nemanja Matic should be available in the midfield positions. Anthony Elanga could be the only out and out attacking player on the bench with Edinson Cavani likely to be on the sidelines still, unless he has managed to get himself fit ahead of this match.
Written by John Walker