Manchester United vs Leeds United
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: Paul Tierney
Premier League football is BACK! And the opening round of fixtures has produced a couple of very intriguing matchups, one of them being Leeds United’s trip to rivals Manchester United.
It will be a wonderful sight to have one of the country’s iconic stadiums, full to the rafters once again. The last time Old Trafford was at capacity was their 2-0 win over Manchester City, and if the United faithful can recreate that atmosphere, the visitors will have their work cut out if they are to leave with all three points.
The Red Devils have been active in the transfer market, with marquee signings in Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane strengthening Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad. After a decent season last time around, Solskjaer will be looking to secure his first trophy as manager of Manchester United, if he wants to repay the owners’ faith in him after he signed a new deal over the summer.
Leeds also enjoyed a fruitful season last campaign. In their return to Premier League football, they finished ninth, providing plenty of entertainment as they became one of the most exciting teams to watch in the top flight. The Whites were just two points behind Arsenal and three off European Conference League qualifying Tottenham Hotspur. Another top-half finish would represent an excellent return for the West Yorkshire club.
In this fixture last season, Manchester United ran out 6-2 winners in one of the games of the season. Fingers crossed for a repeat of the same action!
The hosts will be without a number of first-team players, namely Marcus Rashford as he recovers from his shoulder operation and Edinson Cavani, who has been given more time to recover from the Copa America. Anthony Martial is set to start, with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood ready to support the Frenchman up top.
For the visitors, Bielsa confirmed that new signing Junior Firpo, with the left-back set to make his competitive debut. Diego Llorente is out due to a leg injury with Robert Koch likely to deputise. Up top, all eyes will be on Patrick Bamford as he looks to repeat last season’s success.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, Fred; Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood; Martial
Leeds United (4-5-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Firpo; Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Phillips, Harrison; Bamford
Score Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Leeds United
I expect goals in this fixture! It will be a very tricky game for the hosts first up, exacerbated given the number of absentees from their matchday squad. However, while Leeds are a force going forward, they still look vulnerable at the back, and I fully expect Manchester United to start their campaign in front of the fans in style.