Erik ten Hag

United have waited 56 years for a week like this

Tuesday 07 February 2023 07:00

Manchester United fans have had to hang on for almost a year for a meeting with our rivals from across the Pennines, Leeds United.

The Whites were meant to visit Old Trafford on Sunday 18 September, but the fixture was postponed in the aftermath of The Queen's death.

Now, almost five months on, it has been rearranged for this coming Wednesday (8 February), and to make this hotly anticipated encounter even spicier, our trip to Elland Road follows just four days later.

Consecutive league games against the same opponents are exceedingly rare in the modern era.

Date confirmed for United v Leeds


The Reds' Premier League home game against Leeds will go ahead as planned, after both clubs avoided FA Cup replays.

According to our research, it's happened for United just once in the Premier League era, with the significant caveat that the back-to-back 3-1 wins over Bournemouth in 2016 occurred in separate seasons.

Our 2015/16 campaign closed with a home victory over the Cherries under Louis van Gaal, but Jose Mourinho had replaced the Dutchman as manager when United prevailed by the same scoreline at the Vitality Stadium three months later.

Straight home-and-away meetings have been much harder to find since Christmas Day football was scrapped by most clubs in 1957 - Luton Town were the Reds' last Yuletide opponents.

Matches used to be held on 25 December, with the reverse fixture against the same team played 24 hours later, on Boxing Day.

In the following decade, we still played home-and-away games against a particular side in quick succession around the festive period, with Aston Villa, Burnley and Chelsea all swiftly chalked off the list in 1958, 1959 and 1960 respectively.

Even outside of December, fixture postponements and rearrangements could result in consecutive head-to-heads - for example, we drew 2-2 with Leicester City at Old Trafford on 15 April 1963, with the Foxes winning 4-3 at their old Filbert Street home in the return, played the very next day.

But, as far as we can tell, the games against Wolverhampton Wanderers in December 1967 are the last instances, before the upcoming Leeds clashes, of us playing two straight games against the same team within one league season.

Leeds United 2 United 4 Video

Leeds United 2 United 4

20 February 2022: Our last meeting with Leeds, at Elland Road, was a minor classic...

United led Manchester City by a point going into the double-header, and brushed mid-table Wolves aside at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, with George Best (2), Brian Kidd and Bobby Charlton scoring in a 4-0 victory.

The Black Country outfit put up a sterner test at Molineux four days later, taking a first-minute lead through Pat Buckley. But Charlton, John Aston Jnr and Kidd found the net to help the Reds to a 3-2 win.

A run of five defeats in eight games during the spring meant Matt Busby's side would eventually cede the title to neighbours City, although we did lift the European Cup at the end of that campaign.

Brian Kidd scored in both games against Wolves in 1967.

Five-and-a-half decades on, Erik ten Hag's current Reds are also embroiled in a heavy fixture schedule, both at home and abroad and the two upcoming Leeds clashes could prove pivotal to our hopes.

Older Reds supporters will remember facing the West Yorkshire club three times in 17 days during a similarly hectic 1991/92 campaign, although two of the meetings were in the domestic cups.

We drew 1-1 with the Whites in our final Division One game of 1991, before knocking Leeds out of both the League Cup and FA Cup in January.