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Leeds vs Man Utd: Predictions
After a 16-year wait for the Roses rivalry to kick off once again in the top flight, Leeds and Man Utd marked the occasion with an eight-goal spectacle at Old Trafford in December, with both sides trading leather in one of the season’s most enthralling and adrenaline-fuelled contests, with the hosts triumphing 6-2 on the day.
Few managers (if any) walk away from such a trouncing with praise, but plaudits were aimed at Marcelo Bielsa for having the audacity to approach such a contest with the handbrake very much off. His Leeds side tried to play their typically fluid way, but were overwhelmed by the pace and explosion of Man Utd’s quick counters. Whether Bielsa stays true to his philosophy, or takes a more pragmatic approach this weekend is now the key pre-match footnote.
And his side enter this latest installation of the historic derby in stellar form, having recently taken down Man City 2-1 at the Etihad and clinched a point off reigning champions Liverpool on Monday. Leeds lost the last league game when these sides met at Elland Road in 2003, but they have not suffered consecutive home defeats to the club since 1976.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a Europa League semi-final showdown with Roma to prepare for later this month but he will be determined to consolidate his side’s second-place position in the Premier League table, while also enhancing his own reputation with the fans by beating an age-old adversary.
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Leeds vs Man Utd: Match Stats
A contest of such passion and historic value will only play into Leeds’ hands. Under Bielsa the hosts are famously energetic and industrious from minute one to minute 90; they need no second invitation to put in the hard yards, nor do they need the context of a ‘big game’ to gear themselves up for a fight.
One player who embodies this colloquially termed ‘murderball’ approach is Luke Ayling, Leeds’ all-action right-back who seldom (if ever) leaves the turf with his shorts unblemished; in fact, only Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (88) has registered more tackles in the Premier League this season than Ayling (85).
For Man Utd, their biggest threat arguably comes in the guise of wunderkind Mason Greenwood, who is in rich form at the minute, and has scored 15 Premier League goals for the club so far, with no player netting more as a teenager for the Red Devils in the competition.
As touched upon it was a frantic and enthralling contest when these sides met over the festive period, with both clubs completely abandoning any organisational instincts and letting their attacking flair do the talking; the result ended in an eight-goal thriller, with an unlikely brace for Scott McTominay and an expected brace for Bruno Fernandes.