After a disappointing defeat to Everton – a match we could have and should have won, that Bielsa took the hit on for his team selection – we are perilously close to the relegation zone with a run of matches ahead of us we are unlikely to extract any points from. This starts with Leeds United playing Manchester United. Bielsa in his pre-match press conference described this one as “a classic game is always a challenge that is very motivating.” Well that very much depends on the performance.
Our recent record against Manchester United in the Premier League has been mostly awful and there is little to suggest anything other than a defeat today. Leeds have not won their last two matches, are without a named striker, and still missing our talisman, Kalvin Phillips.
Our positives for the match are that we are playing at home, Rodrigo and James are on form to score, and Manchester United are a club and team out of sorts.
Adam Forshaw makes a worthy return to the line-up, and misfiring Raphinha is on the bench. Raphinha was a key player last season, key to many of our wins, so his form is worrying. Firpo – playing well until his injury is on the bench with Gelhardt – two players who can make an impact as subs. On to the match.
A promising start for Leeds which suggests it might not be a walkover for Manchester United. It is a fiery start with tough tackling. A Klich challenge leads to Harrison almost scoring but not quite connecting with the volley. Then Struijk clean tackles Fernandes who lands badly. The crowd are loud.
The action continues with McTominay drawing blood from Koch. Surprisingly no yellow card.
Leeds are looking to use their pace on the right to James and Rodrigo giving United pressure. The tight tackling by Leeds is an improvement on previous matches giving Leeds more opportunities to counter attack.
Good pressure from Leeds in the Manchester United defence gives Forshaw Leeds first shot on target on 20 minutes. But Manchester United grow into the game forcing Meslier to make mistakes. Pogba is a handful for Forshaw and slots the ball to Ronaldo who Meslier blocks at close range. A simple opportunity for Ronaldo to score.
We lose Koch on the half hour with his head injury. Firpo is a strong sub to bring on.
Then Leeds concede to a corner. Llorente is too busy trying to take his man and not watching the ball, and Maguire outjumps him to head the ball into the net. Llorente at fault again giving away a free corner when Meslier was there to collect.
Good pressure from Leeds as the first half closes with James putting a ball across the Manchester United goal but no one picks it up.
The second Manchester United comes from a counter attack with Leeds’ not marking the players. So the first half ends with Meslier’s goal kicks going astray, Klich’s shots on goal going astray and Llorente’s defending lacking. As a team they are getting first to many balls and counter attacking but the difference is Manchester United finishing.
Second half substitutions
Raphinha is given his change in the scond half with Gelhardt. Llorente and Harrison are off. The rain has made the pitch into a pool – another wild factor in play. Gelhardt deserves the opportunity to show he can score. The fact that Leeds have not used the concussion rule for Koch means Leeds have no more subs left.
First minute of the second half sees Gelhardt pass to Klich causing a corner from the deflection and Raphinha taking the corner. Both subs straight into action.
Two goals in two minutes. Leeds causing chaos. Substitutes taking over. Elland road roof is lifting off to the sound of Marching on Together. Half an hour to go.
Leeds’ first goal comes from Firpo getting first to the ball at the half way line then driving it up the line to Rodrigo who crosses it across the penalty area to Raphinha but the cross dips into the top far corner deceiving everyone.
Without time to settle Forshaw tackles the ball with James crossing in behind the Manchester United defence for Raphinha to reach and score. After a nervous minute VAR confirms no tackle by Forshaw.
The opens up with both sides looking for the winner. On the hour Gelhardt is up there in the counter attack having a shot on target.
After all that hard Leeds are undone by Manchester United bringing on their sub – Fred – again from a counter attack. The attack started from a lazy Firpo. Leeds, undeterred, look for another equaliser. The tackling increases along with the yellow cards. The fourth goal came from weak defending of a Manchester United attack that come from nothing.
Leeds deserved a draw from this match – the commitment, the attacks on goal. Ultimately undone by a vastly more expensive squad. Questions have to be asked of Bielsa of the weakness of the Leeds defence.
The match ended with Firpo causing a ruckus when he tackled Elanga. More yellow cards.
Man of the match: Rodrigo