Match preview: United v Leeds
Manchester United take on old rivals Leeds United in the Premier League for the first time since February 2004, on Sunday.
The Whites have been absent from the top-flight in that time but have become one of the division’s most entertaining sides, under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are in good form though, having won five of our last six league games.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of the clash of two Uniteds…
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE GAME?
The game kicks off at 16:30 GMT and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK. United supporters will also be able to follow all the action from Old Trafford on ManUtd.com and in our Official App, where you can also track in-game data using our Match Centre.
MUTV will provide build-up, live radio commentary and post-match reaction as well as showing a full rerun of the game the following day.
We await further updates on the fitness of Edinson Cavani, who has missed United’s last three games with a muscle injury. Defenders Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are out, with their potential returns touted for January.
For Leeds, centre-back Diego Llorente is likely to be ruled out with a muscular problem, while Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin) and Robin Koch (knee) are long-term absentees.
Leeds come into the game on the back of a thumping 5-2 home win over Newcastle on Wednesday, with five different players on the scoresheet, including the prolific Patrick Bamford and summer signing Rodrigo. Prior to that, the Yorkshire club had experienced a relatively indifferent run of form, winning just two of eight after an encouraging start to the campaign, where they’d beaten Fulham and Sheffield United, drawn with Manchester City and pushed Liverpool all the way in an enthralling 4-3 loss at Anfield. Despite the win at Elland Road in midweek, Leeds actually have a better record on the road, winning three of their six games away this season.
Bielsa has become something of a mythical figure during his three decades in senior management. Widely credited as an early adopter of many of the game’s key 21st-century developments, such as high pressing and use of video analysis, the former Argentina boss managed Athletic Bilbao when they defeated United in the 2011/12 Europa League, eventually making it all the way to the final. Leeds are the 10th different club the 65-year-old has taken charge of and, in his two years at Elland Road, he has become a hero in West Yorkshire, guiding the Whites back to the Premier League in the summer after 16 seasons away.
Perhaps football’s most visceral embodiment of the Roses rivalry, this fixture dates back to the early 20th century, but really started to heat up in the 1960s, when Matt Busby’s boys and Don Revie’s side were battling it out for domestic honours. The enmity on the pitch often spilled into the stands, especially in the 1970s, when hooliganism was unfortunately rife in English football. With Leeds spending much of the following decade in the Second Division, the grudge match sparked back into life in the 1990s, as the Yorkshire club pipped United to the league title in 1992.
After that, though the Reds became the dominant force in English football and defeated Leeds in 13 of the 24 Premier League meetings, losing only four times. In total, the clubs have gone up against each other on 109 occasions, with United winning 47 and Leeds 27 – there have been 35 draws.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bamford is among the Premier League’s leading goalscorers this season, having plundered nine goals from his 13 games so far, including a brilliant hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in October. The centre-forward, formerly of Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Norwich and Burnley, among others, had only registered once in the top-flight prior to 2020/21. Central midfielder Kalvin Phillips is also at the heart of Leeds’ side, regularly dropping deep from midfield and spreading play. Awarded his first England cap in September, he has since made four appearances for Gareth Southgate’s side.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh
VAR: Kevin Friend
Assistant VAR: Simon Beck
SATURDAY 19 DECEMBER
Crystal Palace v Liverpool (12:30 GMT)
Southampton v Manchester City (15:00 GMT)
Everton v Arsenal (17:30 GMT)
Newcastle v Fulham (20:00 GMT)
SUNDAY 20 DECEMBER
Brighton v Sheffield United (12:00 GMT)
Tottenham v Leicester (14:15 GMT)
UNITED v Leeds (16:30 GMT)
West Brom v Aston Villa (19:15 GMT)
MONDAY 21 DECEMBER
Burnley v Wolves (17:30 GMT)
Chelsea v West Ham (20:00 GMT)