Manchester United v Leeds: Start the season with goals at Old Trafford

Paul Higham expects it to be an entertaining start to the season at Old Trafford as Man Utd host Leeds in a mouthwatering contest.

Crunch season for Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had time and money and now it's time to deliver. Adding Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane to the team that finished second last year means there are no excuses for Man Utd not challenging this season.

It may be a while before Solskjaer can field his first-choice team with Sancho only joining the squad on Monday so will likely start on the bench. Varane is unlikely to be available, Edinson Cavani only returned from an extended break this week and Marcus Rashford is out injured.

It looks like Anthony Martial leading the line in the opener then ahead of Bruno Fernandes and likely Dan James and Mason Greenwood if Solskajer sticks to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. A big question for him remains where to play Paul Pogba...

United took just seven points from their first six games last season, but they'll need a fast start this time if they're to challenge - especially as they have a relatively soft opening sequence as they don't face a team from last year's top five in their opening seven fixtures.

Bielsa's boys back with a bang?

Leeds earned a fine ninth place thanks to four straight wins to close the season - with only Liverpool taking more points over the final 10 games than Marcelo Bielsa's side. To earn five Premier League wins on the spin for the first time in 20 years though leeds will have to end a run of 16 visits to Old Trafford without a win.

England's new star Kalvin Phillips only had a short summer break so should start but both centre back Diego Llorente and new signing from Barcelona Junior Firpo are doubts with injuries - meaning Stuart Dallas may have to slot into left-back.

After starting last season with a 4-3 loss at Anfield, Leeds then went on to lose 6-2 at Man Utd, and again this has the makings of another thriller with Bielsa set to employ the same tactics that thrilled us all last term. They'll need to avoid the dreaded second season slump but Bielsa is far too long in the tooth to fall into that trap.

Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison are both on hat-tricks having scored for Leeds in the opening games of the last two seasons - only two Leeds players have ever scored in the first league game three seasons in a row.

Man Utd favourites for winning start

The hosts are about the second-shortest home bankers of the weekend at 1.6 with Leeds a whopping 6.0 no doubt due to their woeful Old Trafford record. The draw is 4.7 but the visitors don't do away draws - they literally had none last season (W10 L9).

There could be value in the visitors though if Man Utd's poor home form continues. Having fans back should help improve a United home record that read W9 D4 L6 last season but it is a concern. As was them conceding 28 goals, the most since the early 1960s.

While United went unbeaten away last season, Leeds were also a fine away side as they scored more goals on the road than at home, and goals look on the cards again as no stadium saw the net bulge more than Old Trafford's 66. Leeds' away games also tallied more goals than any other teams' is the division (67).

It's tough to imagine a scenario where over 2.5 goals doesn't land at 1.68.

Given the stats Over 3.5 goals at 2.7 is well within reach here as anything can happen on the opening day.

Bruno and Bamford set to star


Until Sancho hits his stride this is still Bruno Fernandes' team and there'll be plenty backing him for both a goal at 2.1 and an assist at 3.5. Luke Shaw's worth a look for an assist at 3.6 given his flying form at the Euros - he set-up a goal in United's final pre-season game.

If Leeds are to pull off the upset they may have to do it from behind, as no team conceded more first half goals than their 21 last season, but when they do get their noses in front they're a tough nut to crack.

In-play bettors should note that Leeds only dropped six points from winning positions last season - that's the fewest in the league - while they also had to best win ratio when they opened the scoring (16/18) than anyone else in the division. So if the visitors score first you know what to do....

On the goalscorer front, Patrick Bamford jumps out at 3.1 anytime scorer given he not only scored 17 last season but also started brilliantly with a goal in his first three games. He obviously goes well fresh.

Jack Harrison is another quick starter and he's a huge 6.5 to score - another in-play note here is that he scored eight times last season and Leeds won seven of those games.

Go big on Bet Builder stats

If anything like last seasons' game here breaks out then it's time to go high on all the major stat lines if you're a Bet Builder punter - including corners as Leeds regularly piled up corners in away games last season and in this fixture there was a whopping total of 24!

Marcelo Bielsa kneeling 1280.jpg

Over 10.5 corners is 1.91 and worth including in your multiples but over 11.5 at 2.55 is probably worth a bet in itself.

The should be plenty of shots, perhaps not the 43 we saw last season, but plenty enough to try and get a decent return, where you have to include Fernandes who had 79 shots on target for club and country last season including two against Leeds. He's nailed one for one at 1.25 and even worth a play for two at 2.4.

Bamford for Leeds is 1.67 to hit the target once, but the value here could be the excellent Raphina, who had three shots on target at Old Trafford last season but is 2.2 here for just one.

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