Leeds United vs Manchester United: Match Preview | Premier League 2022/23

Viraj Nerurkar
By Viraj Nerurkar
11 Min Read

Premier League Matchweek 23 brings us a repeat of Wednesday night’s clash, Manchester United and Leeds United go head-to-head again, this time at Elland Road. The two clubs met in the midweek to play out their postponed fixture at Old Trafford, drawing 2-2 in what was a gripping game right to the end. On Sunday, the roles will be reversed and Leeds United will play host to Manchester United in the latest edition of their historic rivalry.

Leeds United, on Wednesday night, looked like the Leeds of old under Marcelo Bielsa, playing with an intensity and energy that took the league by storm when they first returned to the top flight in 2020. They pressed Man United high and gave them very little space to work with. Their pressing resulted in their opening goal within the first 60 seconds in the first half, and they then added a second in a similar fashion within the first three minutes of the second half.

Playing without a manager after Jesse Marsch was sacked just before the game at Old Trafford, Leeds showed great character and courage to push the hosts to the maximum at a place where they had won their last 12 games in a row. The trio of Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo, and Chris Armas, took charge of the first teams and were seen on the touchline shouting instructions throughout the 90 minutes. They are expected to remain in charge at least until Sunday’s game, with the club announcing that the process to select a new manager is underway.

Embed from Getty Images

Manchester United were shell-shocked by the way Leeds flew out of the blocks on Wednesday night, but they did well to recoup from that very early goal and controlled the game for large parts, creating many opportunities after. However, they did not bear fruit and they went into halftime a goal down. Erik ten Hag will have wanted his men to continue in the same fashion in the second half, but Leeds once again came at them fast and they conceded an early goal again to make it 0-2 to the visitors.

However, after that Leeds barely got a sniff at United’s box, and the double substitution which saw the introduction of Jadon Sancho, returning to league action after a long time, and the league debut of Facundo Pellistri, changed the game in favour of the Red Devils.

With Marcus Rashford moving into the striker role, United turned much more fluid in attack and pulled one back just minutes after the substitution, the in-form Englishman scoring with a well-placed header. It did not take them long to find the equalizer either, with Jadon Sancho leveling the scores 8 minutes after the first one, with a good finish inside the box. The Red Devils pushed on for a winner, coming close a few times, but they were unable to convert their chances and ultimately the points were shared between the two rivals.

The action-packed game had everything expected from a derby and the battles between the players were intriguing to watch. It was a physical game between the two sides, reminiscent of the early days when the two clubs battled it out on a regular basis. The Pennines derby did not fail to deliver and another game awaits fans on Sunday with a hostile and deafening atmosphere expected at Elland Road.


Date: Sunday, 12th February 2023
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds
Time: 2.00 pm BST


Embed from Getty Images

Leeds United defender Pascal Struijk is a huge doubt for Sunday after he was withdrawn in the first half at Old Trafford with a suspected concussion after being hit in the head by a venomous Marcus Rashford strike. The Dutchman might have to miss out on Sunday’s action in accordance with the concussion protocols. Winger Luis Sinisterra was also forced off in the first half on Wednesday night after a hamstring injury and he will be expected to be out for longer than Struijk. There will be no significant returns for the Whites on Sunday, with Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw, and Rodrigo all remaining on the sidelines.

Manchester United have a few injuries of their own, with Christian Eriksen, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay, and Anthony Martial all on the treatment table. Brazilian winger Antony was a surprise miss from the squad with ten Hag confirming he had suffered a leg injury in last week’s game. Casemiro will serve the second of his three-game suspension on Sunday after receiving a red card last week. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was ruled out of the midweek squad with an illness and he is a huge doubt ahead of the trip to Leeds.


Embed from Getty Images

Managerless Leeds United proved to be heavy for Manchester United on Wednesday night, as they hit the hosts fast and strong. The Red Devils were taken by surprise with the intensity the Peacocks brought with them and it took some time for Man United to find a footing in the game. At Elland Road, the Mancunians should expect similar intensity if not more. The place will be packed with Leeds faithful who harbor bitterness towards the visitors and the home players will only be spurned on by the backing of their loud crowd.

The Leeds coaches set their team up with the sole intention of forcing the Red Devils out wide when in possession. When ten Hag’s men tried to play out from the back, the Leeds attack blocked off all passing routes to Marcel Sabitzer in midfield forcing Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez to find wingers and fullbacks on the flanks instead. This greatly affected Man United’s build-up phase and Leeds could quickly close down the opposition players on the flanks, forcing turnovers, as seen for the first goal.

Ten Hag will be vary of this happening again on Sunday, which is why a change to the midfield cannot be ruled out. Manchester United’s injury issues meant defender Victor Lindelof was played as a number six in the last part of the game, which could be seen again at Elland Road.

United’s midfield was out of sorts all night and although Sabitzer came close to scoring a couple times, he had almost no help from Fred and the hosts looked more comfortable when Lindelof was introduced as a holding midfielder. There could be a chance that Lindelof is deployed in that role on Sunday night to provide more defensive stability to the Red Devils, while also giving more options on the ball with the Swede’s vision and passing range.

There is no doubt that it will be yet another action-packed game on Sunday and given the nature of the derby, it could well get heated again. Man United will have to be alert from the first whistle as any complacency will surely be punished by the hungry Whites.


Wilfried Gnonto

Embed from Getty Images

Scoring within the first 60 seconds of the game, Willy Gnonto was a constant menace to Man United down that right flank. He made life difficult for Diogo Dalot, who had just returned from injury and was a thorn in the side of the United defense. Playing at a stadium of Old Trafford’s stature and a loud atmosphere did not bother the young Italian, and he was up to the physical nature of the derby. He did not shy away from a challenge and the winger will be indispensable to the Peacocks for the rest of the season, and of course on Sunday night.

Jadon Sancho

Embed from Getty Images

Back into the matchday squad of the Premier League for the first time since late October, Sancho was a shining light for the Red Devils since he was subbed on. He took on a tiring Luke Ayling with ease and linked well with Luke Shaw on the left flank, creating a few chances in tight spaces that were hard to find as the Whites played a compressed block. Scoring that equalizer will have done his confidence a world of good and there is no doubt that he has made a case to start on Sunday night, and Erik ten Hag will have been impressed by what he saw from the 22-year-old winger.


Leeds predicted XI vs Man Utd: Ilan Meslier; Luke Ayling, Robin Koch, Max Wober, Junior Firpo; Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie; Crysencio Summerville, Jack Harrison, Wilfried Gnonto; Patrick Bamford.

Man Utd predicted XI vs Leeds United: David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw; Victor Lindelof, Marcel Sabitzer; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho; Marcus Rashford.

Share this Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *