Are you ready for our huge Premier Leaguer opener?

Thursday 12 August 2021 15:27

Manchester United's 2021/22 season starts on Saturday afternoon, and a capacity crowd will be present inside Old Trafford when we take on our historic rivals Leeds United.

It's a momentous day for the club, with a full house descending on M16 for the first time since the famous 2-0 win over Manchester City in March 2020.
 
The Reds finished second last term, and have hopes of going one better this time around, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad growing in confidence and momentum over the last couple of years. But Marcelo Bielsa's well-drilled Leeds outfit won't be easy opposition on the first weekend of the season – and that's without taking into account the age-old enmity between the two clubs.
 
Here's everything you need to know about our campaign opener...
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE MATCH?
 
The match kicks off at 12:30 BST on Saturday and will be shown live in the UK via BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate. You can also follow the action across ManUtd.com and our Official App, where the Match Centre will bring you in-game stats and insight. MUTV's coverage will start at 11:25 BST, and you'll be able to get the team news an hour before the game begins, plus match commentary, analysis, interviews and post-match reaction.

ARRIVE EARLY!
Of course, some of you may be attending the match in person. If so, we strongly encourage all fans to arrive at least 90 minutes before kick-off to avoid queues and congestion. There are significant works and disruption on the roads and tram networks so traffic will be much busier than normal. Fans must plan ahead – check the 
TfGM website to plan your journey. Doors open two hours before kick-off with bottles of beer and cider for sale at a newly reduced price of £3 in the concourses.
TEAM NEWS
 
New signing Jadon Sancho has enjoyed his first week of training, and could be in contention to make his United debut this weekend, though possibly from the bench. 
 
Anthony Martial started last weekend's 4-0 win in the friendly with Everton, and could be in line to feature in a competitive game for the first time in almost five months. Our back five in that clash with the Toffees was David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, and with Dean Henderson having recently struggled with COVID-19, and prospective new signing Raphael Varane still to be confirmed, a similar defensive set-up this weekend would not be surprising.
 
Bruno Fernandes was in fine form last weekend, but who will partner him in midfield? Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek have all been looking bright and, in the wide positions, youngster Anthony Elanga has proved he is more than ready to build on the couple of opportunities he received last season. Up front, Mason Greenwood is another option at centre-forward or on the flanks.
 
We'll hear more on all these matters from Ole, when the Norwegian meets the media in his pre-match press conference. Watch that at 13:30 BST on Friday.
FORM GUIDE
 
Obviously there's scant evidence to go on, as this is the opening fixture of the season for both teams. But how have both clubs fared in pre-season? United have won two, drawn one and lost one of four games, while a scheduled fixture at Preston North End was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
 
Leeds have played six preparatory matches, and have won one (Guiseley), drawn two (Villarreal, Blackburn Rovers) and lost three (Fleetwood, Real Betis, Ajax).
 
HEAD TO HEAD
 
Despite the famous rivalry between the two clubs, and the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, recent meetings have been few and far between. Last season's league games were the first between the sides since 2003/04. United won 6-2 at Old Trafford, as we're sure you remember, but Bielsa's boys responded well in the reverse fixture at Elland Road, earning a 0-0 draw. Overall, through history, it's fairly even: United have 48 wins, Leeds 27 and there have been 36 draws. The Whites' record is less prosperous at Old Trafford though: they're without a league win here since February 1981.
THE MANAGER
 
Marcelo Bielsa is known for his obsessive attention to detail and slightly eccentric mannerisms. At Leeds, his match-viewing pose has usually involved him sitting on a bucket with a coffee clasped in his hand. But the football his teams play is often glorious to watch, full of slick passing, relentless movement and intricate patterns. United fans may remember the Athletic Club team he brought to Old Trafford in 2012. A team featuring Ander Herrera beat us 3-2 in the Europa League, with one of the finest European away performances our stadium has ever witnessed. It's fair to say the Argentinian is an icon in Leeds for his work at the club: he led them back to the top flight after 16 years in the wilderness, and has captivated their passionate fans with his idiosyncrasies and, above all, the brilliant football.
MATCH OFFICIALS
 
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor 
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts.
 
RIVALS WATCH
 
Here's the rest of the fixtures as the 2021/22 Premier League roars into life...
 
FRIDAY 12 AUGUST
Brentford v Arsenal (20:00 BST)
 
SATURDAY 13 AUGUST 
UNITED v Leeds (12:30 BST)
Leicester v Wolves
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Watford v Aston Villa
Everton v Southampton
Burnley v Brighton
Norwich v Liverpool (17:30 BST)

All fixtures kick off at 15:00 BST unless stated
 
SUNDAY 15 AUGUST
Newcastle v West Ham (14:00 BST)
Tottenham v Manchester City (16:30 BST)

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