Leeds United host Manchester United this weekend, as the teams are set to play their two Premier League matches against each other in quick succession. The hosts have yet to make a managerial appointment as they weigh up the options open to them, but there was improvement during the match on Wednesday. They took a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford and were frustrated that they only managed to take a point. It was a performance to build on though and they will feel confident that they can cause similar issues on Sunday. At Elland Road, they will have their supporters backing them and the atmosphere could have a big impact.
The sacking of Jesse Marsch was met with a mixed response earlier this week. Supporters were generally in favour, as it is a results business and Leeds haven’t won enough games this season. However, the level of performances wasn’t as bad as the results and he was unfortunate that his team was wasteful in front of goal. This was especially the case last weekend, as they missed three or four big chances against Nottingham Forest. The Leeds board will be hoping the new appointment will help them stay in the top flight, but the fans will want some long term stability.
Manchester United have a busy February that will end in a Carabao Cup final. Before that, they have two league matches and two matches with Barcelona in the Europa League. Casemiro’s suspension will be damaging in the short term. Their defensive structure was vulnerable during the week. They could have conceded more than two at Old Trafford. Erik ten Hag will want to consolidate their position in the top four with a win this weekend. They have a smaller squad than some of their rivals, with a shortage of quality in some areas. The build up of games will be tricky to manage.
Leeds United haven’t won a Premier League game since November.
Manchester United haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five Premier League games.
It was going to be a tricky season for Leeds after selling Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha, but they have managed to recruit a player to help replace the latter. Wilfried Gnonto was signed for a bargain fee from FC Zurich and he has quickly adjusted to the Premier League. The Italian international was destined for big things after making his international debut as a teenager and he is now consistently performing in the English top flight. His dynamism and directness caused a lot of problems for Manchester United during the week. In the opening minutes of the match on Wednesday, he scored a fantastic goal from range. It sparked Leeds into action and helped his side take control of the match. This season, the attacker has contributed two goals and one assist, but he has only recently broken into the team. If Leeds are to stay up, the teenager could be the one to provide the attacking spark.
There is one player that opposition defenders fear most when they come up against Manchester United at the moment and that is Marcus Rashford. 2023 is shaping up to be a breakthrough season for the England international, as he is now consistently performing as one of the best in the Premier League. After a couple of seasons marred by poor form and injuries, it is great to see the attacker thriving again. Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit will have helped Rashford recapture his form, as he is now the leader of the attack again. Since the World Cup, he has 12 goals and four assists. It is an incredible period of form and underlines how he is now a consistent threat in the final third. Leeds will be aware of his threat, as he scored on Wednesday. It will be very difficult to stop him continuing his elite scoring form.
Liam Cooper, Marc Roca and Luis Sinisterra are all doubts for the weekend. Pascal Struijk is missing with a concussion.
Antony, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial are all unavailable. Casemiro serves the second match of his suspension.
The game on Wednesday was a great watch for the neutral. Leeds were unlucky and will have hope in front of their home fans. If they deliver a similar performance, they could have a chance of a famous victory. Manchester United don’t look the same without Casemiro.
Leeds United 2-1 Manchester United