Going into gameweek 14, one of the key fixtures to look out for is Manchester United against Leeds United on Sunday evening, two teams who have constantly been at each other’s throats since 1926.
The match is expected to be filled with a number of goals, especially with Leeds playing a high line, which will be exposed by the creativity and burst of pace of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. On the other hand, Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play is proving to be dominant and ruthless, as his team will aim to run rings around Manchester United’s midfield and get in behind their full-backs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to turn the side’s home form around, as the Red Devils have only won one league game so far this season at Old Trafford, picking up five points out of a potential 15. And looking at the Whites’ results away from home, it is fairly balance, as they have won three games and lost three games, scoring on ten occasions whilst conceding 11 times in six games.
With no further ado, here are the three key battles to look out for ahead of the match…
Marcus Rashford vs Luke Ayling
With five goals and four assists to his name in 12 league appearances, Marcus Rashford will be aiming to improve on his consistency and efficiency in the final third as the neutrals and the Old Trafford faithful are expecting him to reach 20 league goals by the end of the season. Despite some poor and unconvincing moments, he has had in front of goal, the 23-year-old is starting to get back to his best, where he glides past players with pure ease and does not overthink his shots in the box.
Rashford will be in for an exciting and tight battle with Luke Ayling, who is Leeds’ main option in the right-back position and is a player that is not afraid to run up and down the flank, as he has completed the second most dribbles and fourth most key passes, when compared to his team-mates. Depending on how much possession Leeds go onto to dominate at Old Trafford on Sunday evening, Ayling has to keep close tabs on Rashford, as he can make an impact in a matter of seconds.
Jack Harrison vs Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Leeds have been able to attack and conquer through the likes of Helder Costa, Mateusz Klich, Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo, but it’s the key individual in Jack Harrison that has the team ticking from midfield to attack and he is someone that really gets the best out of the players inside the penalty box. The 24-year-old has an interesting background ahead of the game, as he has previously spent time in the youth academy at both Liverpool and Manchester United, seven years in the latter’s academy system, and is currently a Leeds United player on loan from parent club Manchester City.
Harrison will have to be closely marked and watched by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has had great difficulties in kicking off to a good start this campaign and has had ongoing problems on both sides of the pitch. The former Crystal Palace defender has made a name for himself with the types of interceptions and tackles he has produced over the last 18-24 months, though, he has not been able to get replicate it this campaign, as he is mistiming his defensive output and is seen as a weak link.
Bruno Fernandes vs Kalvin Phillips
Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has constantly changed the selection around in midfield, there will be no doubts over Bruno Fernandes starting for one single moment, who will be the leading the team through his creativity and decision-making. The Portuguese international continues to show his influence and importance in the middle of the pitch, as he is able to get the best out of key attackers in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashfords whilst he proceeds to rack up the goals and assists himself.
Meanwhile for Leeds United, Kalvin Phillips is expected to continue to play in the lone defensive-midfield role, where he will be sitting in front of the defence, providing the much needed balance and stability to the midfield. The 25-year-old will be looking to nullify the threat of Bruno Fernandes, along with helping his own team in the build-up to their attack, something he is already well-known for.