Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Prediction: Manchester United vs Leeds

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 7/10

Bookmaker: Unibet

In what is one of England’s most iconic rivalries, Manchester United and Leeds will open the 2021/22 campaign when they face off at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

Manchester United

Starting with the hosts, while Manchester United might have been hit with that action-packed 4-2 friendly defeat against Championship outfit QPR last month, The Reds did manage to sign off their preparations with a real flurry. Watching the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood find the net at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side were last seen landing a thumping 4-0 win against Everton on home soil. Breaking the bank this summer as they brought in both Jadon Sancho and World Cup-winning defender Raphaël Varane, many believe that United must make a real charge for the Premier League title this time around. With Solskjær’s wait to lift a piece of silverware still going on after their Europa League heartbreak at the hands of Villarreal back on May 26th, Saturday’s hosts also showed some extended issues at Old Trafford when signing off last year’s campaign. Including a shock 1-1 draw against a relegated Fulham, The Reds collected just a single point from their final three top-flight home fixtures.

Team News

Making a big-money move to Old Trafford over the summer, England international Jadon Sancho could be in line to make his Manchester United debut at some point this weekend. However, fellow new arrival Raphaël Varane will not be available.

Having shoulder surgery over the summer, Marcus Rashford is set for an extended stint on the sidelines.

Leeds

As for the visitors, while Manchester United might have managed to sign off their pre-season preparations with a real flurry, Leeds will be hoping that their performances over the summer won’t drag into the upcoming Premier League campaign. Including a 4-0 drumming at the hands of Dutch giants Ajax and a shock 2-1 loss against League One outfit Fleetwood Town on July 30th, Head Coach Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping for his side to find a similar level they set at the back end of the 2020/21 season. Bagging themselves 12 points from their final four top-flight contests, The Whites also lost just one of their final 11 Premier League matchups, a run that saw them snatch points off of the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham. If Leeds are to pick up what would be a famous victory this weekend, then Bielsa will be calling on attacking talisman Patrick Bamford to lead their charge. Enjoying a breakout campaign last season, the 27-year-old racked up 17 strikes.

Team News

Former Barcelona defender Junior Firpo has overcome a minor knock and is in line to make his Premier League debut at left-back this weekend. Likewise, midfield starlet Jamie Shackleton has been passed fit.

However, suffering with a leg injury, defender Diego Llorente will miss out at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

Key Factors to Consider

    • Manchester United managed to record just a single point from their final three Premier League home fixtures last season.
    • Leeds ended the 2020/21 campaign by winning each of their final four top-flight matchups on the spin.
    • Patrick Bamford scored 17 Premier League goals last season.
    • Likewise, United talisman Bruno Fernandes bagged himself 28 goals across all formats last season.
    • Nine of Leeds’ final 10 Premier League matchups last season saw over 1.5 goals by the final whistle.

    Conclusion

    Opening up the 2021/22 campaign with a real derby showdown this weekend, neutrals up and down the country will be hoping for a thriller on Saturday lunchtime. Managing to sign off their pre-season preparations with a thumping victory against fellow Premier League outfit Everton last weekend, the hosts will be desperate to pick up bragging rights at Old Trafford. However, while Leeds might have endured what was a sluggish summer run, they gained plenty of plaudits last season for their lively displays last season. Signing off their run with a real flurry, don’t be surprised to see chances come thick and fast this weekend. Playing out an eight-goal thriller when they last met in Manchester, we’re backing a similar affair here.

    Verdict: Both teams to score

    Best Odds: 7/10

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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