Man Utd vs Leeds – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Wednesday 8th February 2023
As part of our midweek Premier League predictions, we examine Leeds’ visit to Old Trafford for the Pennines Derby. Can Man Utd close the gap on City? Or will Leeds record their first PL win since November? Find out with our Man Utd vs Leeds prediction.
Man Utd vs Leeds Match Preview
Man Utd come into this Pennines derby match against managerless Leeds on the back of a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace that became more difficult than perhaps it ought to have been following a red card for Casemiro for getting involved in a fracas sparked by an incident between Crystal Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp and United’s Antony. Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, this result had some ramifications for this season’s title race, as both Arsenal and Manchester City suffered unexpected losses away at Everton and Spurs respectively.
Though Champions League qualification is still surely the main goal for Ten Hag’s men, they now also find themselves two points clear of Newcastle following their failure to beat West Ham at home, and United will consider this fixture to be eminently winnable. However, with an injury and suspension crisis in the middle of the park with Casemiro, Eriksen, van de Beek and most probably McTominay all unavailable for selection, it’s possible that United will have to field something of an untested midfield trio, with either new Bayern Munich loanee Sabitzer starting or Martinez moving into midfield.
Leeds parted ways with manager Jesse Marsch following a winless run of form that saw the West Yorkshire side fail to record a Premier League victory since early November. In a defeat that perhaps mirrored performances and results in recent weeks, Leeds were on top for large periods against Nottingham Forest but were unable to create enough clear chances to make them pay, and were perhaps dogmatic in their approach in terms of eschewing width in favour of attacking centrally in congested areas.
Though Marsch intended to follow previous manager Marcelo Bielsa in following an expansive footballing blueprint, the reality is that Leeds are in 17th position and level on points with 18th-placed Everton, albeit with a game in hand. The fact that their game in hand is an away trip to a Man Utd side with a highly impressive home record this season will be of little comfort, as will Leeds’ recent form against their bitter rivals having shipped 4, 5 and 6 goals against them in their last four league encounters.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: McTominay
Will Not Play: Casemiro, Eriksen, Martial, van de Beek
Might Not Play: Perkins
Will Not Play: Dallas, Forshaw, Gray, Rodrigo
Man Utd vs Leeds Lineups (Predicted)
Man Utd (4-2-3-1):De Gea; Shaw, Varane, Martinez, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Sabitzer; Rashford, Fernandes, Antony; Weghorst
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Wober, Koch, Cooper, Ayling; Adams, McKennie; Gnonto, Aaronson, Sinisterra; Bamford
Man Utd vs Leeds Analysis
Leeds Must Play With More Width
While Leeds have indeed been more impressive than results would otherwise suggest, the fact remains that results have not been on their side and a crucial factor in this poor run of form is their inability to break down packed defences. Against Nottingham Forest, Leeds were dominant in possession and attempts on goal but truthfully they couldn’t claim to deserve what would have been a priceless away victory.
Forest simply knew where they could allow Leeds to have the ball and closed ranks (mostly effectively) whenever they approached their penalty area. It’s perhaps puzzling that Leeds didn’t make greater use of their wide attacking talent under Jesse Marsch, as Gnonto, Sinisterra, Harrison and Summerville are all decent Premier League calibre attacking talents who can bring some element of danger to the wide areas.
If they play the same way against Man Utd, it’s again likely that United’s defence will be able to snuff out the danger from central areas relatively easily. It’s not that Leeds’ attacking players are short in quality, it’s more that they weren’t afforded the room to operate as they weren’t expansive enough in the final third.
If they give their central midfielders more room to operate in the middle of the park, they could see some joy in that area too, as McKennie, who is likely to make his full debut here, and Adams form an energetic partnership at international level which could overrun a United midfield shorn of both Casemiro and Eriksen. There’s perhaps an opportunity there if they are brave enough to take it and start playing with more width.
Man Utd Could Smell Blood
If, on the other hand, very little changes over the next few days, with very little time to implement any meaningful tactical changes other than perhaps introducing more width when in possession, we could be in for more of the same from Leeds here and that includes the potential for a heavy defeat against a United side that is starting to click. While United would have been disappointed with elements of their performance against Arsenal, they were imperious against Crystal Palace until a rather needless red card made their task much more difficult.
Though some criticised United’s collapse in the wake of the red card, perhaps they were negligent to mention that Palace have the players and the tactical setup to attack directly into space, which there was more of, and are generally a bad team to go down to 10 men against.
This season, Old Trafford isn’t proving to be anything like as comfortable for the opposition. It’s premature and also reductive to speak about a ‘fear factor’ when playing against United here. However, United have conceded 6 goals in 10 matches and have scored 10 in their last 4 home matches in a run of home victories that now extends to 13 consecutive matches. Potentially, this could be a terrible time for Leeds to visit their rivals when they’re growing in confidence.
Leeds could struggle with the directness of United’s attacking play, with Fernandes and Rashford shining in recent weeks as a result of their willingness to play risky passes in the case of the former and running directly at the opposition defence in the case of the latter – elements that were missing from their respective games when they were underperforming. Despite their lowly league position, Leeds are adept at gaining a foothold in games and holding their own in midfield battles, it’s their ability to defend against rapid transitions that has hurt them on many occasions this season and United have the weapons to do that.
Straightforward home win, with the caveat of Leeds possibly being able to enjoy some success if they can introduce more width to their attacking approach when in possession owing to United’s depleted midfield. We don’t believe that United’s attacking output will be unduly hindered in this match by some important absences. Leeds are vulnerable to direct, decisive attacks in transition and United have demonstrated this season that they’re at their best when they have the opposition backpedalling towards goal.
Leeds have not shown an ability to defend compactly against superior opposition like other sides have – a recent statistic against Manchester City, where they conceded 29 attempts at goal means that they’re not particularly adept at shutting down the opposition in the final third. Sometimes it’s difficult to predict what tactical direction a team will take when there is an outgoing manager, but in this case, we feel it will probably be business as usual.
Man Utd 3-0 Leeds
Man Utd vs Leeds Betting Tip – Man Utd -1 (Win by 2 Goals or More) Odds:
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