Manchester United vs Leeds United LIVE – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must unleash Fred on Leeds United at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon if Manchester United are to stop Patrick Bamford from finding the back of the net. Man Utd midfielder Fred on Leeds United Manchester United versus Leeds will always be one of the most evocative fixtures in top-flight English football, even if Sunday’s game at Old Trafford will be the first league meeting for more than 16 years. Their rivalry is surprisingly intense given that Leeds won their first title in the Don Revie era in the 1960s and have spent much of their time outside the Premier League since becoming the last winners of the old First Division in 1992.
Ignore anyone who tells you this has anything to do with the Wars of the Roses, though historians pointing out there were decades of bitter trans-Pennine competition between the wool trade in Yorkshire and the ultimately more dominant King Cotton in Lancashire are probably close to the mark.
Certainly in terms of the urban, industrial areas of the two counties there has never been much love lost between inhabitants of Lancashire and Yorkshire and football in the past half-century or so has simply provided a convenient platform for mutual distrust.
United host Leeds this weekend looking to continue their new-found momentum that includes a draw against Manchester City and a thriller at Sheffield United.
Fred was left out of the past four squads in a row after being sent off against Paris Saint-Germain, but it would be a surprise to not see him be named in the squad to face Leeds at Old Trafford. – Man Utd midfielder Fred on Leeds United
Top four is calling
United fans will have one eye on events at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before their own game kicks-off. One of Spurs and Leicester City are guaranteed to drop points, but whatever happens United are at least guaranteed to move into the top four with a win today.
Reaching the Champions League spots after 13 games will be an impressive effort given where they were after three games.
Last season United dropped out of the top four after the fifth game of the season and then slumped as low as 14th in mid-October. It wasn’t until the 37th game of the campaign that they returned to those Champions League spots. The recovery this season has been smoother and a spot in the top four today will be a major platform to build on.
Rich rivalry deserves fans today
It’s close to 17 years since United played Leeds at Old Trafford in a league game and the travesty today is that one of the game’s most fiercest rivalries won’t have the accompanying crowd noise it so richly deserves. The atmosphere was always somewhere between intense and febrile when those two teams met, a trait continued in a Youth Cup tie at Old Trafford last season, but today that intensity will have to be generated by the players on the pitch.
While it was undoubtedly funny to see Leeds United toiling away in the second and third tiers, there is no argument that they are a welcome addition back to the Premier League. A game against Leeds is certainly more attractive than a game against Bournemouth. And with Marcelo Bielsa in charge they are easy on the eye as well.
De Gea expected to start
The early word is David de Gea will return in goal for United today, with Dean Henderson due to start in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at Everton.
De Gea’s expected return does not register as a jolt and Solskjaer must privately think he has given Henderson ample playing time this month. By the end of it, he will have made at least three starts and just before December started Henderson came on for his United Premier League debut.
The rotation is still unsustainable, though. Both ‘keepers rightly see themselves as No.1s.
Former United striker Andy Cole is backing his old side to get the win against Leeds today, but doesn’t think it will be straightforward.
Speaking exclusively on The Target Men Podcast, Cole gave his prediction:
“I think Manchester United will have too much for Leeds United this weekend. Leeds have come into the Premier League with a lot of swagger and I’ve been very impressed with them, but they’re going through a little bit of a slump at the moment in getting results their performances maybe haven’t deserved.
“I don’t expect the game to be as tame as the Manchester derby at the weekend that’s for sure!
“I really enjoy watching teams coached by Marcelo Bielsa and I think Leeds United have performed so incredibly well this season. He has done such a good job at Leeds and they’re playing football with the confidence of a team who have been in the Premier League for years.”