LEEDS United kick off their Premier League campaign this weekend away to Manchester United - a fixture which will see Marcelo Bielsa lock horns with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The West Yorkshire club travel to Old Trafford for the early kick-off (12:30 pm) on Saturday and it will give the Leeds fans the chance to flock in their numbers for the first time since returning to the Premier League.

Covid 19 has restricted fans from attending games up and down the country in the past 18 months and the White’s travelling supporters will be eager to attend a fixture so close to their hearts.

The rivalry between the two sides, sometimes known as the ‘Pennines Derby’, originates from the strong enmity between the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, which is believed to have originated from the War of the Roses of the 15th century.  Although the cities are 40 miles apart, the tradition is upheld and the hostility between the two clubs is palpable.

The fixture this weekend will be no different and the added impetuous of fans returning could add to the ferocity of the Leeds and Manchester United rivalry.

In the two previous meetings last season, The Reds ran out 6-2 winners at Old Trafford, while the return fixture ended in a stalemate between the two sides.

For Manchester United, they are coming off the back of a campaign where they finished runners up to Manchester City and Solskjaer was rewarded for his efforts with a recent three-year contract extension.

The recent acquisitions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane will give the Reds a timely boost going into the new campaign- however it is still to be seen whether the former will be thrown straight into the starting 11 against Leeds after he only returned to pre-season recently due to England progressing through to the latter stages of Euro 2020. Varane won’t make the squad for the hosts.

As for Leeds, they will have been more than happy with their 9th placed finish in their returning Premier League campaign last time out and they certainly attracted many admirers along the way.

Bielsa’s side caught the eye of many- known for their exciting brand of football, whether it be one touch football or their high intensity pressing game, the Whites proved they could mix with the best.

Showing no fear in most fixtures, Utd were able to claim points from all the ‘Top six’ sides, most notably against Premier League champions Manchester City, where they picked up a 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium.

Going into this weekend, Leeds will be hopeful they can collect a point or three for their supporters after such a positive campaign last year.

Leeds have a near fully fit squad to choose from going into the fixture against the Old Trafford side so Kalvin Philips could make his return to the side after returning from international duties.

New signing Junior Firpo is expected to come in at left-back to replace the departed Ezgjan Alioski who left for Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli.

Patrick Bamford is expected to lead the line for the away side and Raphinha and Jack Harrison are expected to be deployed on the wings, with the latter making his move permanent from Manchester City in the summer.

The question is, can Leeds secure their first victory against Manchester Utd since 2010- a day which will be remembered in the hearts of Leeds Fans forever?

Looking forward

It shouldn’t be too much of a concern that Bielsa’s side only collected one victory out of a possible six in pre-season, with Bielsa tinkering with his line-ups on a number of occasions and giving opportunities to youngsters.

Leeds have also managed to keep the chore of their squad, which served them so well in the last campaign, intact with the likes of Philips, Bamford, Meslier and talented winger Raphinha all remaining on their books.

They also confirmed the signing of winger Harrison on a permanent deal from Manchester City after he shone on loan for two seasons.

It still remains to be seen whether Leeds will dip back into the transfer market with Firpo their only real addition as well as youngster Lewis Bate from Chelsea who will most likely be used in their U23 squad.

One thing is for certain, Leeds won’t adapt their expansive, eye-catching brand of football and Bielsa will be hoping his side can better their previous league position and push on towards a European finish.

The Leeds faithful will be able to return to Elland Road in numbers on August 21- hosting Everton on this occasion.

All in all, we are set for another year of excitement in England’s top division as the West Yorkshire side prepare for their second season under Bielsa in the Premier League.