Manchester United kick-off their Premier League campaign against Leeds. A solid test will arrive to Old Trafford on Saturday making it one of the more intriguing Matchday 1 fixtures.
The tea might have to be a bit stronger for the 1230 GMT kick-off. The weather calls for a typical overcast day for the returning Premier League crowds, it will be the first time in around 18 months that fans will be watching a league game at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s Rich History With Leeds ‘The Roses Rivalry’
Only 64 kilometers separate the two clubs, Leeds see United as their biggest rival, and this could create another dynamic to the Red Devil’s campaign.
The Red Devils biggest derby now is Liverpool and has been for a long time, followed by Manchester City. Leeds are unlikely to threaten that order, but definitely would be in contention to follow Liverpool and City.
The small rivalry between the two clubs nicknamed the Roses Rivalry or Pennines Derby thrived in the 1970s between the fans and was ripe on the pitch in the 1990s and early 2000s. Leeds relegation in 2004 tamed the rivalry, but with fans in attendance and a solid Leeds, the derby can be rejuvenated.
The Red Devils destroyed Leeds in their first outing last season, 6-2, but was held to a goalless draw when things got stale towards the end of the season. Manchester United are 47-36-26 all time and in all competitions against Leeds.
First Team News and Updates/ Ole’s Presser
Many first team players got a much needed break after the Euros. The preseason heavily featured youth and fringe players.
Anthony Martial returned to the first team against Everton and could get minutes against Leeds. Dan James played significant minutes, James Garner had a cameo in the middle and Donny van de Beek started as well, all could be in contention for minutes at the weekend.
New boy Jadon Sancho could be in the mix, but Raphael Varane does not look likely to take part according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“Jadon is going to be involved, definitely, he has had a good week. I can not tell you if he is going to start or not though,” said Solskjaer about Sancho. Varane has not trained and still needs some time, we could be surprised though, Ole likes to hold his cards tight.
Solskjaer has a decent amount of options with his squad selection on Saturday compared to the Europa League Final two months ago. No Marcus Rashford or Edinson Cavani creates some problems at forward, but in the middle Ole has some tough decisions.
Manchester United could lineup with Nemanja Matic as the defensive midfielder, the Fred and Scott McTominay pivot is in contention, Donny van de Beek could have a shout and Paul Pogba could start out more towards the left like he has before.
Ole’s base formation seems to be the 4-2-3-1, it would be likely that he decides to stick with familiarity for the first game, but the 4-3-3 could be in play if he wants to switch it up a bit.
An extra midfielder might help against Leeds. Leeds like to get after it, the counter is always a possibility against Leeds. Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial could have some opportunities to get in behind the defense.
Jadon Sancho could start and there is a decent chance he does. If he starts Manchester United really do not have much off the bench attacking, like the Europa League Final. Dan James could be an option off the bench, Sancho would be more dynamic off the bench than James.
Donny van de Beek could easily be in for Fred. DVB looked good with Matic against Everton, the pair also performed well against Wolves in the final game of last season. If things get stale with Fred, DVB can inject some offense in the middle for Manchester United if needed.
Manchester United fans should be in for a great season opener against Leeds. One that hopefully sets the tone for a great season.