Leeds vs Man Utd – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Sunday 12th February 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we cast an eye over the second Pennines derby in just four days. Leeds caught United cold at the start of both halves on Wednesday – can United produce a positive reaction here? Read on with our Leeds vs Man Utd prediction.
Leeds vs Man Utd Match Preview
With Wednesday evening’s pulsating 2-2 draw fresh in our minds, the reverse fixture will be played out at Elland Road just four days later. In a worrying development for Manchester United which has seen them take just eight points from their last five matches, a lack of concentration at the start of both halves saw Leeds score both shots on target to clinch a valuable away point against their bitter rivals. Leeds also had a free kick from Aaronson, which somehow made its way through a split wall to hit the post late on, so in that regard, we can say that although Man Utd dominated possession and created more opportunities, Leeds could well have won the game.
Although we’re brave enough to admit that we predicted a comfortable victory for Manchester United against a struggling Leeds outfit, we did add the caveat that if Leeds were able to play with a greater width than they were under outgoing manager Jesse Marsch, then they could stretch the pitch and give themselves a greater chance at creating dangerous situations in transition which they certainly were able to on occasions. Ten Hag, his players and coaching staff will be bitterly disappointed with both goals conceded, and frankly, that kind of defending is substandard for a side with ambitions for Champions League qualification.
As is often the case of an outgoing manager, Leeds were vibrant, full of energy and appeared desperate to impress both the new caretaker boss and potential managerial candidates. While that might seem like a cliche, Leeds played with an urgency that had been missing for the most part under Marsch. This point is not designed to denigrate Marsch in any way – for the most part, he had succeeded in his brief of a continuation of Bielsa’s tactics, but perhaps he failed to ensure that Leeds were playing expansively enough in the final third.
Leeds now find themselves in 16th position, one point ahead of 18th-placed Everton whom they visit in the following round of Premier League fixtures. Any kind of positive result here would be most welcome for a team whose primary aim is surely Premier League survival, and given that they managed to rock Manchester United at Old Trafford where they have been impressive this season, they’ll fancy their chances of doing just that.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Perkins, Sinisterra, Struijk
Will Not Play: Dallas, Forshaw, Gray, Rodrigo
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Antony, Eriksen, Martial, McTominay, van de Beek
Leeds vs Man Utd Lineups (Predicted)
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Firpo, Koch, Ayling, Cooper; Adams, McKennie; Gnonto, Aaronson, Harrison; Bamford
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Shaw, Varane, Martinez, Dalot; Sabitzer, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Garnacho; Weghorst
Leeds vs Man Utd Analysis
Man Utd’s Midfield Woes
While every Premier League club has to navigate injury and suspension issues from time to time, United are without three of their first-choice midfielders and are having to integrate Bayern Munich loanee Marcel Sabitzer with perhaps more urgency than they would like to. With no Casemiro, Eriksen or McTominay available, United were reliant upon moving Martinez in midfield for tired legs, and with Leeds’ midfield tandem of Adams and McKennie, this could pose a problem with the quick turnaround between matches.
Even without the issue of fatigue, United, perhaps understandably so, play like a different team shorn of their two best midfielders. Casemiro and Eriksen, sometimes supplemented by Fred against stronger opposition, have combined to form a highly effective and creative double pivot that has established itself as one of the stronger midfield pairings in the league, addressing a major weakness for Manchester United. Both of Leeds’ goals came from situations in which they were able to effectively stretch the play out wide in the final third and had United scrambling to defend, and the prevention for that starts in central midfield.
While Fernandes performed his defensive duties with a degree of intensity which is an improvement in the Portuguese’s all-round game, United will need more from both Rashford and Garnacho in terms of tracking back to deal with a Leeds side who found a lot of joy in wide areas. As we stated in our midweek preview but didn’t believe Leeds were in a position to carry it out, we identified this area as a potential problem for Man Utd, and they will need to deal with Leeds defensively in numbers at times to prevent the same from happening again. Some may point out that Leeds benefited from an own goal at the start of the second half, but they were able to fashion the kind of dangerous attacking situation we described in some detail.
Leeds Can Continue to Improve
Speculative, sure, but this was Leeds’ first game under caretaker manager Skubala and although they had less possession and fewer chances, it could be argued that they were disruptive enough and clinical enough to deserve their point. Reminiscent of Paul Ince’s notepad, although with a little more detail, Skubala apparently had four points of emphasis for his charges; transitions, close (the) middle, be calm, believe.
Leeds likely saw that Manchester United midfield unit as there for the taking. This isn’t to denigrate Fred or Sabitzer in any way – they’re both capable midfielders who can contribute to this Manchester United team, but they’ve hardly played together. Once you factor in the lack of defensive effort from United’s wide men, it becomes apparent that McKennie and Adams in particular would be able to disrupt Manchester United in the middle of the park.
We’re guilty of not ‘believing’ that Leeds could carry out this particular gameplan, and it has to be said that Leeds also rode their luck at times – perhaps notably in the first half when Garnacho was released, rounded the keeper only to see his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by some last-ditch but nevertheless impressive defending.
Manchester United simply don’t operate as well without Casemiro and Eriksen when faced with opposition transitions, and Leeds were certainly able to win that particular battle at times throughout the match. The question is, can Leeds benefit from catching United cold again? We’re almost certain that they will score – unless United can get much improved defensive displays from the likes of Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho to help track Leeds’ impressive wide men.
We’re going to cautiously predict a narrow Manchester United win because they still created more, with 7 shots on target to Leeds’ two, and had 66% possession. These statistics alone of course aren’t enough to win football matches, and neither is United’s 2xG – 0.55xG superiority over Leeds because players missing chances is part of the game. Ten Hag will probably be able to get the desired reaction out of them in what will most likely be another imperfect showing.
Leeds 1-2 Man Utd
Leeds vs Man Utd Betting Tip – Man Utd Odds:
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