Manchester United -v- Leeds United
Old Trafford, Manchester
Sunday 20 December 2020, KO 16:30 GMT
Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh
VAR: Kevin Friend Assistant VAR: Simon Beck
Manchester United will entertain Leeds United at Old Trafford for the first time in the Premier League since 2004 on Sunday afternoon. Back then, it was a 1-1 draw between the two fierce rivals. United and Leeds have met twice in the domestic cup competitions with Leeds beating United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in the 2009/10 season and with United beating Leeds 3-0 in the League Cup in the 2011/12 season. There was a meeting in Australia during pre-season not all that long ago, which was another win for United, but not a competitive match. It is safe to say that Leeds will relish their match at Old Trafford.
United beat Sheffield United on Thursday evening, which saw them rise to sixth in the Premier League with goal difference separating them and Everton. Another win for United could propel them further up the league table, which will see United still have a game in hand over the teams above them, and probably immediately below them, which is a good sign of progress. United six five points from the top of the league, before any matches kick off this weekend, having that game in hand, so this supposed ‘crisis’ at Old Trafford seems to be a little bit far fetched to say the least, or just journalistic licence.
Manchester United: WDLWLW
Sheffield United 3-2 W, Manchester City 0-0 D, RB Leipzig 3-2 L, West Ham United 3-1 W, Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 L, Southampton 3-2 W
Leeds United: WLLWDL
Newcastle United 5-2 W, West Ham United 2-1 L, Chelsea 3-1 L, Everton 1-0 W, Arsenal 0-0 D, Crystal Palace 4-1 L
Top Scorers: Marcus Rashford (12) and Bruno Fernandes (11) have 23 goals between them in all competitions this season. Patrick Bamford has scored nine goals this season, despite suggestions that he would struggle in the top flight of English football.
Manchester United Goals: 12 – Marcus Rashford, 11 – Bruno Fernandes, 3 – Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Daniel James, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka
United have scored 12 goals and conceded 11 in their last six matches, which saw United win three times, draw once and lose twice. the two losses were both in the UEFA Champions League, which United exited at the group stage, falling into the UEFA Europa League there they will face Real Sociedad in February. United’s victory over the Blades on Thursday evening saw them rise up to sixth in the league, before any matches were played this weekend and will be seeking to rise further with a victory over the fierce rivals from Yorkshire. Solskjaer seems to have his team winning, now to focus on conceding fewer goals.
Leeds United Goals: 9 – Patrick Bamford, 3 – Mateusz Klich, 2 – Ezgjan Alioski, Hélder Costa, Stuart Dallas, Jack Harrison, Rodrigo, 1 – Raphinha
Leeds have scored nine goals and conceded 11 in their last six matches, winning twice, drawing once and losing three times. The club has done well this season, since winning the Championship last season and under manager Marcelo Bielsa, they will be seeking to frustrate many teams this season. Leeds will start this match week in 13th place in the Premier League table and could fall further after matches are played on Saturday and Sunday, with six matches to be played before this clash at Old Trafford. Leeds would relish a victory at the Theatre of Dreams and United will need to find a way to turn their stadium into a fortress once more.
Team News: United could have three players out of action with Leeds having four. This could be a battle of fitness, desire and determination at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon.
Phil Jones (knee) is out of action for the remainder of the year, not that he was named in the Premier League squad, so would not be eligible to play even if he was fit. Marcos Rojo (calf) has been out of action since the summer break and was only recently mention by Solskjaer as injured with a calf injury, again. He could be back in action in about three weeks. Edinson Cavani (muscular) missed the matches against Manchester City and Sheffield United. He should be fit for the clash with Leeds on Sunday, which could be a good thing for United with more firepower required to keep players fresh at this stage of the season.
Gaetano Berardi (ACL), Adam Forshaw (groin/hip), Robin Koch (knee) and Diego Llorente (muscular) have all been ruled out of the trip to Old Trafford to face United on Sunday. Of course, the manager will give an update ahead of the match, as to whether any of these players could be in contention, which seems doubtful, or whether there are any other names to add to the injury list. This will be a big match for both teams, with both teams having the desire to win the match and better their league positions during this busy Festive period of the season. United should be the victors for me, but Leeds have good instincts about them.
Predicted Starting XI: Martial, Rashford, Van de Beek and Greenwood to start against Leeds?
Solskjaer has revealed that Edinson Cavani will feature against Leeds this weekend but after his absence due to injury, I don’t think a starting position would be wise immediately. Him coming off the bench in the second half of the match would be beneficial for United and could add further pressure for Leeds, which would be a good thing as they start to tire. I think Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Donny van de Beek and Mason Greenwood will play in the forward four (three behind the striker) with Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw ahead of David De Gea.
Match Prediction: 24 matches played between these fierce rivals with United winning 13 times, Leeds winning four times and the teams drawing seven times. Who will win this battle at Old Trafford?
United and Leeds have met a total of 24 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 13 times whereas Leeds have won four times with seven draws between the two clubs. United have scored a total of 35 goals, winning no penalties. Leeds have scored a total of 17 goals, also winning no penalties. United have kept a total of 13 clean sheets with Leeds keeping just five clean sheets. In terms of discipline, United have been shown a total of 33 yellow cards and no red cards with Leeds being shown a total of 46 yellow cards and two red cards. This could well be a fiery match between the Manchester and Yorkshire rivals.
The last time these two teams faced each other in the Premier League at Old Trafford was during the 2003/04 season. The match was played on the 21 February 2004 and it was a 1-1 draw with Paul Scholes opening the scoring in the 64th minute of the match and Alan Smith equalising three minutes later. The away clash that season was played ay Elland Road on the 18 October 2003 and was a 1-0 victory to United with Roy Keane scoring the only goal of the match. United and Leeds have met twice in the domestic cups since. Leeds won 1-0 in the FA Cup at Old Trafford in 2010 and United winning the League Cup match 3-0 in 2011.
Manchester United 2-1 Leeds United
Written by John Walker