Preview: Manchester United vs. Leeds United – prediction, team news, lineups

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Manchester United will begin their 2021-22 Premier League campaign with a home fixture against Marcelo Bielsa‘s Leeds United on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Devils finished second behind Manchester City in last season’s table, while Leeds impressed on their return to the top flight, picking up 59 points from 38 matches to claim ninth.

Match preview

Man United will be expected to challenge for this season’s Premier League title, with the club again making progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last term, claiming second spot, 12 points behind the champions Man City.

Statement signings in the shape of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have arrived, and the Red Devils will be looking to put down a marker in the early stages of the campaign. Indeed, the 20-time English champions will not face a genuine top-four rival in the league until they travel to Leicester City in the middle of October.

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There are no easy games at this level of football, but Solskjaer will be expecting his side to pick up some serious points in the opening weeks and that will surely have to be the case if they are to genuinely challenge Man City for the title, with the Citizens likely to be the team to beat once again.

The team’s pre-season has been interrupted by late returns from international duty and coronavirus issues, but they managed to play four friendlies and put in a strong performance against Everton last Saturday, as Mason GreenwoodHarry MaguireBruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot scored in a 4-0 win.

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Man United finished last season without any silverware, but they made the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, semi-finals of the EFL Cup and final of the Europa League, and Solskjaer will be desperate to take the final step in 2021-22, with the Norwegian certainly being backed in the transfer market this summer.

Leeds, meanwhile, finished ninth in the Premier League last season on their return to the top flight, and it would be fair to say that they provided plenty of entertainment along the way.

The Whites finished just two points behind eighth-place Arsenal and three points behind seventh-place Tottenham Hotspur, who secured a spot in the Europa Conference League; Bielsa’s side were only six points off the Europa League positions, meanwhile, which is so impressive for a promoted team.

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Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, Fred; Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood; Martial

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Firpo; Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Phillips, Harrison; Bamford

We say: Manchester United 2-1 Leeds United

This is a very, very tough match for Man United, who will be missing a number of important players. Last season, the Red Devils won this fixture 6-2, as Leeds left too many gaps in defensive areas. On this occasion, we are not expecting a high-scoring contest but are just backing Man United to get the job done, with Sancho potentially coming off the bench to make the difference for the 20-time English champions.

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