Manchester United face Leeds United again today for the second time in four days.
The Red Devils, without their usual midfield pivot of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, struggled against a physical Leeds side at Old Trafford on Wednesday and had to come back from two goals down to get a point.
According to Opta Analyst, however, despite not having home field advantage in this return match, United will pick up all three points this time around.
“The Opta Supercomputer rates Manchester United as favourites to pick up their 17th Premier League win over Leeds United on Sunday, therefore equalling Liverpool’s record-tally of wins against the Whites in the competition,” the analyst reports.
“Ten Hag’s side are being given a 46.3% chance of defeating Leeds at Elland Road, which is nearly double the chance of a home win (26.8%).”
The Analyst points to United’s fruitful history at Elland Road and the fact that despite that good showing on Wednesday, Leeds are still winless in eight games in the Premier League – the longest current winless run. They are also managerless.
Winning the game for United will depend on their ability to silence Leeds’ explosive prodigy Wilfried Gnonto, who caused havoc at Old Trafford.
As the Opta Analyst points out, “Gnonto (19y 95d) became the youngest player to score a Premier League goal against Man Utd at Old Trafford since Jermain Defoe (19y 62d) for West Ham in December 2001.
“In fact, Gnonto was the youngest overseas player to score an away goal versus Man Utd.
“A lot of Gnonto’s threat comes from his ability to carry the ball and beat opponents with his pace and guile.
“Despite only playing 716 minutes of Premier League action in 2022-23 for Leeds, he’s already been involved in 12 shots following a ball carry.”
With Gnonto generally occupying the space between right back and right centre back, United boss Erik ten Hag could nullify the effect by pushing Diogo Dalot (or Aaron Wan-Bissaka, depending on team selection) narrower and deeper than his usual wide attacking role, or by instructing one of the DM’s – probably Fred or Marcel Sabitzer – to cover that gap as a priority.
Ten Hag could well ring the changes up front in today’s game after Leeds were able to easily deal with the threat posed by Wout Weghorst on Wednesday.
The introduction of Jadon Sancho and Facundo Pellistri, with Marcus Rashford taking over at centre forward, caused the Yorkshire side no end of problems and this more mobile and fluid approach could be adopted from kick off this time around.
If Antony has recovered from the knock that saw him miss Wednesday’s game, it would not be a surprise to see Sancho start on the left wing, Antony right and Rashford in the middle.
If the supercomputer is right, three points could see United rise to second in the table, albeit briefly, with Man City not due to play until later in the day. It would also bring them to within two wins of league leaders Arsenal.
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