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After one of the most tumultuous weeks in the club’s history, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely be relieved to be focusing on more mundane concerns like how to counteract Leeds high pressing game. It would be intriguing to get Solskjaer’s true feelings on the resignation of his executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
The former JP Morgan investment banker has sought to distance himself from the European Super League plans, claiming he made the decision to resign because he could not support the owner’s plans to join the Super League.
Sunday 14:00 – Leeds v Man United
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
That implausible notion was quashed by an anonymous Premier League chief executive who said that Woodward was involved in plans for the Super League “from day one”.
Like many United fans, Solskjaer may not be too disappointed to see the back of Woodward in the hope that United pursue a candidate with greater experience in European football to bring more stability and know-how to United’s dealings in the transfer market. Anyway, let’s concentrate on the game.
One player who Man United may be looking at this summer is Leeds’ Brazilian winger Raphinha and his absence will be keenly felt by Marcelo Bielsa. Raphinha has been one of the best wide players in the Premier League, sitting sixth in charts for key passes per game with only high-profile names like Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Mount and Luke Shaw ahead of him.
His pace on the counter-attack would have been vital in making Shaw think twice before charging forward and without him I struggle to see Leeds being able to match The Red Devils. The visitors are 23 games unbeaten on the road in the Premier League and are one of the best counter-attacking teams in the division. They can expose the over-committing numbers of Leeds going forward, just like they did when scoring six at Old Trafford in December.
Even without Raphinha, it’s hard to see Solskjaer’s men keeping this relentless Whites team scoreless. Bielsa’s boys have scored as many as they’ve let in this season (50) and won’t stop their cavalier style for this one. With Man United so deadly on the break and on a great run away from home, Both Teams To Score has every chance on Sunday.
No Manchester United player has more cards than the skipper Harry Maguire. He’s a fair price to pick up booking number 10 of the season here too. With the pace and numbers Leeds commit forward offering the potential for the visitors to be overwhelmed in the middle of the pitch, that should tempt Maguire to see a flash of yellow.
Kalvin Phillips has the difficult job of putting out the fires for Marcelo Bielsa when Leeds flood so many numbers on the break, and it’s not surprising he is their most carded player. This will be an even more difficult job than usual for the England man, with the likes of Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford darting up-field on the counter-attack. Add to that, Bruno Fernandes pulling the strings and the Leeds hometown hero looks to have his work cut out for him.
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