Manchester United will face familiar foes in Leeds United this afternoon as they hope to exact revenge following their failure to secure all three points in midweek against the same opposition.
Erik ten Hag’s side failed to win for just the third time this year, and with Arsenal and Manchester City recently slipping up in their chase for the Premier League title, could United launch a surprise challenge?
The fixture congestion that is slowly building may disrupt any ambitions they have of a sustained challenge, although a victory this afternoon would offer a boost in confidence.
Ten Hag welcomed back Jadon Sancho in midweek for his first Premier League appearance since October, and the 22-year-old marked his introduction off the bench by scoring United’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw.
Will Sancho be unleashed against Leeds?
Since arriving in Manchester in the summer of 2021, his spell at the club hasn’t exactly lived up to the dizzying heights that some might have expected following his £73m move from Borussia Dortmund.
His first season at Old Trafford saw him score just five goals, which was some way down on his 16 in the previous campaign for Dortmund, which made him arguably one of the most highly-regarded youngsters on the continent.
The 22-year-old was expected to kick on this season under Ten Hag, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way, despite an encouraging start in August which saw him hit the winner against Liverpool in a 2-1 victory.
He trained away from the first team between November and January, with the manager wanting him to regain full mental and physical fitness, and it appears to have worked.
Substituted on for the final half-hour in midweek, Sancho not only managed to score but also made three key passes, had four dribble attempts and completed 92% of his passes in a rather successful cameo, and Ten Hag should duly unleash him from the start today.
He was once hailed as “robust” by Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc and “flamboyant” by ex-England youth coach Dan Micciche, and if he can get back to the form he displayed in Germany, he could become a formidable player for Ten Hag and United.
If given a start today, he could terrorise a Leeds defence which couldn’t stop his attacking prowess on Wednesday, and the Red Devils boss could use that to his advantage today to great effect.