Manchester United will be looking to make it two wins on the spin on Sunday afternoon as they take on Leeds United.
A lot has changed since the opening day of the season when United hammered their fierce rivals 5-1 but the intense rivalry between the two clubs has not.
It’s bound to be a raucous atmosphere at Elland Road as the home fans will be in attendance for the match for the first time in over a decade after they were unable to go last season due to the pandemic.
Ralf Rangnick’s side have been handed the chance to stretch their advantage in fourth place to four points after West Ham could only draw once again on Saturday, this time to Newcastle, but Arsenal continued to make up ground with a win and still have three games in hand.
You can follow all the build-up, action and reaction right here!
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Some young Leeds fans clearly love Ronaldo
Some Leeds schoolchildren who were waving at the Leeds players out on the pitch have been ‘Siiiiiiu’ing, or however you spell it. Anyone over the age of 10 who tries it in one of the Leeds areas during the game may soon find themselves outside the ground.
One of the best images of the season was of a child at Norwich abusing Ronaldo after he had scored. He was surrounded by Norwich fans taking pictures of Ronaldo or ‘Siiiiiu’ing, yet stayed loyal and gave it to Ronaldo instead.
James may relish coming up against Dalot
Leeds fans heckled Daniel James with a chorus of ‘you’re too s–t to play for Leeds’ when United beat them on August 14. Just over two weeks later, James was posing in a Leeds shirt again and this time his transfer went through after the infamous January 2019 collapse.
James showed in his two years at United he was Premier League standard, just not as high as United were operating at. Leeds feels like a more suitable fit and he may relish today’s duel with Diogo Dalot, who’s been rinsed in a couple of games this season.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka would be a more suitable defender to pit against James but he has not played in nine games and there are no calls for him to return.
James will want to prove a point today
Ralf Rangnick was not asked about Daniel James ahead of this match, but it would be interesting to know if he would have kept him at the club, rather than sell him last summer. The Welshman was inconsistent during his Old Trafford tenure but his work ethic and ability to press from the front might have made him a favourite of the interim manager.
James has three goals in his last five outings and will be desperate to prove United made a mistake in selling him after only two seasons.
Some confirmed squad members for today’s match
This isn’t a definitive list but the following players are definitely in today’s squad: Dalot, Pogba, Ronaldo, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, Sancho, Lingard, Fred, Telles, Fernandes, Elanga, Varane, McTominay, Lindelof.
Could United repeat Pogba trick?
United had plenty of joy against Leeds on the opening day, partly because Paul Pogba was allowed the freedom of the left wing with his attacking role. It will be interesting to see if they repeat that approach today, though it would mean moving the in-form Jadon Sancho the right-wing.
United could do with a big win today
This is arguably the toughest test of Ralf Rangnick’s reign so far, given that it is a fierce derby contested in tricky conditions. With so many big matches on the horizon it is crucial United achieve a positive result here today and given the porous nature of the opposition defence there will be many away fans hoping for a big win.
Three points of any kind are crucial given Tottenham’s win yesterday, but a big win would be the perfect springboard for a pivotal stage of the season.
Some are happy with today’s rain
Some of the Leeds officials are glad it’s raining. As everyone discovered with the Euros final, the best deterrent for crowd disorder is not the police but rain. Had England beaten Italy on a dry day there were fears someone could’ve been killed amid the overcrowding at Wembley and illegal entry by a number of fans.
There is a big police presence here, unsurprisingly.
Hannibal in Under-23 action today
A slither of early team news is that Hannibal starts for the U23s today, so he won’t be at Elland Road.
Anthony Elanga is expected to be in the squad again, and could even start, which is testament to his progress over the recent weeks.
It’s set to be a tasty atmosphere at Elland Road today
The staff who greeted us at Elland Road were warm and friendly, though none of the United supporters are likely to expect such hospitality when they click through the turnstiles.
The rain is relentless and not forecast to cease, either. Automatically, you suspect that will benefit Leeds more than United, playing at Elland Road with a crowd present for the first time since Paul Pogba’s debut in 2011.
A lot of United players have been found out with matchgoers back this season and today is the acid test. It is a bilious rivalry and, for a generation of fans, will be their first genuine introduction to it even though it was rather vitriolic on the opening weekend at Old Trafford