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Manchester United are seeking their 14th consecutive victory at Old Trafford
Leeds United could drop into the bottom three of the Premier League on Wednesday
Manchester United are likely to have too much quality for their rivals in this game
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The Red Devils are flying right now and this should be a reasonably comfortable 90 minutes for them.
Back Manchester United to beat Leeds United and over 2.5 goals in Wednesday’s clash at Old Trafford. (+105)
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Manchester United did not have everything their own way against Crystal Palace on Saturday, but they ultimately got the job done. Erik ten Hag’s team were 2-0 up and cruising midway through the second half, but a Casemiro red card and a Jeff Schlupp goal set up an anxious finish for the Red Devils.
But United showed considerable grit and resolve to get over the line. It was their 13th consecutive victory in front of their own fans in all competitions, while the fact that Arsenal and Manchester City both lost at the weekend means the Red Devils are now eight points adrift of the former and just three behind the latter.
There has been talk of a possible Premier League title tilt, but United’s principal aim remains to finish in the top four. They are certainly going well in that regard, having risen from sixth at the beginning of October to third at present.
There is still a long way to go, though. United are in fantastic form, having accumulated 19 points from the last 24 on offer, while also reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup and the final of the EFL Cup. But it is unlikely that they will be able to sustain that sort of record for the remainder of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur appear to have turned a corner, while in-form Brighton & Hove Albion may yet mount a challenge for the Champions League qualification spots. United are in a good position, but there is still plenty of soccer left to be played this term.
Leeds United have much more modest ambitions than their upcoming opponents. A 1-0 defeat by Nottingham Forest on Sunday means Jesse Marsch’s men have now gone seven games without a win in the top flight; their last victory was over three months ago against Bournemouth.
As a consequence of their poor form, Leeds are now outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone. Since the Whites beat Chelsea in the middle of August, no team in the division has collected fewer points.
Marsch must now be beginning to fear for his job. He has never been able to win over a section of the Leeds fan base, many of whom did not want to see Marcelo Bielsa dismissed last season.
Marsch fulfilled his remit of leading Leeds to safety in 2021/22, but many supporters will be starting to wonder whether the club again needs to make a change in order to survive this time around.
That is not to say the manager is solely to blame for the team’s struggles, and there are no outward signs that the players have lost faith in the American. But a hefty defeat at Old Trafford on Wednesday would be damaging for Leeds, who will welcome the same opponents to Elland Road this weekend.
Manchester United have made Old Trafford a fortress again. It was certainly not that last season: the Red Devils won only 10 of their 19 home games in the Premier League, which contributed to their dismal all-round showing under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
This term, visiting teams are once again dreading trips to the Premier League’s largest stadium. Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have all been beaten there. United have won 13 home matches in a row in all competitions, and the best online sportsbooks fancy their chances of making it 14 wins on the bounce in this rearranged fixture.
The title will probably be out of reach for United. Even if they win here, they will be five points off the summit of the standings having played two more games than Arsenal. But with Manchester City faltering, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Ten Hag’s side could yet emerge as the Gunners’ closest challengers.
In the more immediate term, Manchester United should have too much quality for Leeds on Wednesday. The Whites are struggling for form and their confidence will be low having gone so long without a Premier League win.
This fixture has been high-scoring over the last couple of seasons, and Ten Hag’s in-form side will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a Leeds team that has conceded two or more goals in seven of their last 11 Premier League outings. Back the hosts to win in a match featuring more than 2.5 goals.
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Teams: Manchester United vs Leeds United
Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Date and Time: Wednesday 8 February 2023, 3.00 PM EST
How to Watch: USA Network, fuboTV
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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