Casemiro serves the first game of his three-match ban. Martial, Antony, Eriksen and McTominay are injured, leaving Ten Hag with limited options in midfield and upfront. Weghorst was ineffectual against Palace, perhaps due to many minutes at a higher level than he’s used to. Sancho is back in the squad. Dalot is in with a late chance. Here’s the team we hope starts, followed by why:
At the back, unless Varane needs a rest, we go for the current best five. Even if Dalot is back training, it would be better to ease him in as sub rather than throw him straight in. Wan-Bissaka has arguably done enough to retain his place anyway.
Midfield is more tricky. Unsurprisingly we can’t replace one of the best midfielders in the world like for like so expect Fred and Sabitzer to combine behind Fernandes to form an energetic three. Neither Fred nor Sabitzer are traditional holding midfielders but, combined with the strong running Fernandes, they should still have too much for Leeds.
Upfront, we’ve rested Weghorst and given Rashford a chance through the middle. We all know his favourite position is off the left, but combining him with Sancho and Garnacho should give the front line a lot of attacking fluidity. Compared to defence or midfield, this is a lot more speculative and Ten Hag may prefer not to experiment too much and instead go for Rashford, Weghorst and another. Whether that is Sancho remains to be seen.
Even with the new manager(s) bounce, United should be far too good for Leeds. Even if they start at 110% they will run out of steam and fall into the same bad habits that got their manager sacked. It is still important that United don’t concede an early goal to give them something to hang on to.