Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:
(1) Manchester United will be glad to return to action this weekend, if for no other reason than it will be a 90-minute respite from the Super League fallout. Sadly, United stood near the forefront of the ill-advised (and, thankfully, aborted) attempt to create a closed shop in place of the Champions League. All six of the involved Premier League clubs were forced into an embarrassing climbdown by withdrawing from the Super League just two days after its announcement. Now, the only questions that remain are how many heads will roll (Hi, Ed!) and whether the “other fourteen” will impose sanctions on the guilty.
(2) The Reds continued their penchant for late heroics in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Burnley. Mason Greenwood fired Manchester United into the lead shortly after the halftime break — and did so again in the 84th minute (courtesy of a fortuitous bounce off a Burnley defender’s heel). Edinson Cavani then slammed the door on the Clarets with a goal in second-half stoppage time.
(3) That’s now four goals in the last three Premier League matches for young Greenwood. He’s quickly making the right wing his own and, with Anthony Martial sidelined for the foreseeable future, this mini-purple patch couldn’t have come at a better time.
Mason Greenwood has equalled Wayne Rooney's Premier League goalscoring record before the age of 20 (15) ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/VyoXD1Idel— utdreport (@utdreport) April 18, 2021
(4) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the benefits of a full week’s rest ahead of the Leeds United match:
It’s so strange. It’s the first time since before Project Restart. It’s a strange feeling. Of course, it’ll be a little bit of downtime and we’ll be ready to go. We’ll need it because it’ll be Leeds and that’s a physical test, as well.
(5) As Ole alluded to, Leeds are quite unlike any other Premier League team. Marcelo Bielsa has crafted a side that relishes high-octane football, applying intense pressure from the opening whistle until the dying seconds. The celebrated Argentine manager draws out a level of effort from his players that is practically superhuman. Manchester United better get their running boots ready for Sunday.
Goals scored: 50— William Hill (@WilliamHill) April 19, 2021
Goals conceded: 50
Leeds United are the first team to see 100+ goals scored in their Premier League games this season.
Bielsa-Ball is box office. pic.twitter.com/HL82uWCzwK
(6) Despite concerns over possible burnout and how Bielsa’s idiosyncratic style would translate to the Premier League, Leeds’ return to the top-flight has proven to be a triumph. The Whites sit tenth in the table — behind Arsenal on goal difference — and remain on pace to rack up one of the highest points totals by a promoted side in Premier League history.
(7) Sunday’s match ends a brutal stretch for Leeds. It started off with a trip to Manchester City, where Bielsa’s side defeated the leaders 2-1. They followed that up with a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Monday night, as Diego Llorente equalized in the 87th minute to rescue a point for the hosts. Incredibly, Leeds dominated the ball against the reigning champs — an area that’s usually Liverpool’s bailiwick — holding them to just 38% possession.
(8) One to watch: Stuart Dallas scored both goals in Leeds’ famous win at Manchester City and earns extremely high praise for his versatility. Dallas has made himself a Bielsa favorite for his willingness to play all over the park — and El Loco keeps finding new ways to work him into the lineup in different positions.
Marcelo Bielsa on Stuart Dallas: “I've previously had a player similar to this. He reminds me of Javier Zanetti and Julio Saldaña, someone I managed at Newell's Old Boys in my first managerial experience. They were very much alike Dallas in terms of their versatility.” #LUFC pic.twitter.com/pO06pZ5aVA— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) April 18, 2021
(9) Back in December, Manchester United jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Leeds in the first three minutes of the match, en route to a 6-2 win over their longtime rivals. Leeds’ defense, though, has come a long way since then. The Whites have only allowed eight goals in nine Premier League matches over the past two months. With Kalvin Phillips sitting deep in midfield and the impressive Liam Cooper behind him in central defense, Leeds have the rearguard talent to make this defensive improvement permanent.
(10) Leeds are sweating on the fitness of star winger Raphinha. He left the Manchester City win with a thigh injury and then missed out on the Liverpool match last weekend, throwing his availability for Sunday into doubt. Bielsa has had little to say other than Raphinha is “in the process of recovery”. The 24-year-old is probably Leeds’ most dangerous player, strong with the ball at his feet and capable of blowing past defenders with his excellent speed. If he can’t go this weekend, that would be a huge blow to Leeds’ chances.
(11) Let’s end this chaotic week on a lighter note...
The Super League existed for the same amount of time that Marcelo Bielsa was Lazio manager.— John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) April 20, 2021