Manchester United were held to a dull 0-0 draw against Leeds United in their Premier League fixture at Elland Road on Sunday. Despite playing a fiery goalfest in the reverse fixture, the two rivals played out a nervy and slow draw in the final few games of the season. Both teams came into the game in fine form and were hoping to climb the points tally.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer made some changes to the team considering the crucial fixtures that are coming up. Henderson stayed in goal behind the back four of Luke Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, and Lindelof. Fred and McTominay were the holding midfielders and the attack comprised Bruno, Rashford, Mason, and James. The substitutes included van de Beek, Pogba, Cavani, Bailly, and Telles among others.
First Half- Premier League Rivalry Reignited
Manchester United looked to start the game similarly to how they started their home fixture. Mason attempted to head the ball towards goal, but Leeds’ goalkeeper saved it comfortably. On the other end, Leeds’ high press extracted errors out of United’s midfield. Wan-Bissaka and Shaw tried to play a more attacking role but their quality of crossing and passing was quite lackluster. Harry Maguire sprinted to the edge of the Leeds’ box and played a good pass to Rashford, but the forward was unable to find his feet and get the shot away. Leeds’ defenders blocked many attempts from the edge of the box, but that also came down to slow decision-making on Manchester United’s behalf.
Evidently, Bruno Fernandes was the point of focus for Leeds. Their defenders circled around Bruno allowing him little to no space in the center of the park. Unfortunately, Manchester United lacked their pacey off-the-ball movement that we have witnessed recently. Ole’s decision to play Rashford instead of Cavani was also questionable in my opinion. The visitors missed Cavani’s movement inside the box and also his ability to shake off defenders. In the final moments of the first half, Rashford’s free-kick drew a good save from Leeds’ Meslier. At halftime, United had a slight advantage owing to their quality and defensive strength.
Second Half- Hopeful but Lifeless
Leeds started the second half strongly as they found some passes to get in behind United’s defense. Fred and McTominay covered every blade of grass, dropping back to support defense, and pushing ahead during offensive moves. Mason had another opening to get a shot away but Leeds’ defenders crowded him out. Bruno Fernandes had the best chance of the game at the hour mark when Wan-Bissaka played a superb cross towards him, but his shot was agonizingly wide. Bruno also tried a cheeky freekick routine in the 66th minute, flicking the ball over the wall towards Rashford but Leeds’ Ayling got the block in before Rashford got the shot away.
Manchester United got caught on the break in the 74th minute, but luckily Leeds did not punish them. Shortly after, Ole pulled the trigger on subs and brought on Pogba to replace Dan James. Pogba’s introduction gave Manchester United some confidence as Leeds’ got pushed back further. Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek came on to replace Rashford and Fred for the final few minutes as Ole looked for a winner. Unfortunately, that winner did not come as both sides settled for a 0-0 draw.
Full-Time Thoughts- Roses Fight On
Manchester United continued their unbeaten away record and also their unbeaten Premier League record dating back to January 27. Manchester United will now focus on Roma in the Europa League semi-finals, and Liverpool in the Premier League next weekend. Perhaps Ole went the cautious route and played Fred and McTominay instead of a more attacking side, the team was unable to carve out a clear-cut chance.