The Leeds mistakes against Manchester United which caused 'mayhem' that Newcastle must learn from

By Chris Knight

The odds are firmly against Newcastle United picking up their first win of the season this weekend against Manchester United.

Steve Bruce's side have endured a poor start to the campaign, picking up a solitary point from their opening three matches and crashing out of the Carabao Cup on penalties.

Up next is an ominous test at Manchester United and the likely second debut of summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Both sides are set to be affected by FIFA's five-day ban for players who did not head out on international duty due to quarantine fears associated with travel to red-list countries. Miguel Almiron and Fred are expected to miss out as a result of this decision.

The Red Devils have now set a record in English league football by extending their unbeaten away run to 28 matches with victory at Wolves.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side also made an impressive start to the campaign in their only Old Trafford fixture to date, thrashing rivals Leeds United.

The hosts ran riot on August 14 in the opening fixture of the season, with Bruno Fernandes scoring a hat-trick in an emphatic 5-1 victory.

With the addition of Ronaldo and the possible return of Edinson Cavani, the Magpies must find a way of countering the numerous threats at Solskjaer's disposal while also offering something on the counter.

There is no doubt that Newcastle will approach the contest differently to Marcelo Bielsa's side, but is there any lessons to be learnt ahead of Saturday's assignment?

Leeds United writer Beren Cross for our sister title LeedsLive explains the 'biggest issue' was the absence of Kalvin Phillips.

Robin Koch, Rodrigo, and Mateusz Klich failed to handle the attacking prowess of Fernandes and Paul Pogba, while Fred and Scott McTominay also posed a threat from deep.

Cross said: "Whenever Phillips has been missing from the Leeds line-up it has created problems across the three years since Bielsa first arrived.

"With Koch playing as the defensive midfielder in their 4-1-4-1 system it created havoc and space for Fernandes among others.

"The Germany international was unable to keep on top of the Portuguese playmaker and, combined with a roaming Pogba, who drifted in off the left flank, it was mayhem for Leeds.

"Mason Greenwood was able to drop deeper as the striker and that trio’s movement was too much for Leeds to deal with in that central channel.

"Their task was not helped by the central midfielders, Rodrigo and Klich. Much like their performances in the 6-2 defeat at Old Trafford last season, they struggled to live with McTominay and Fred breaking lines from deep.

"That Leeds pair are inherently attack-minded, so when the hosts had the ball, they did not have the nous to keep on top of McTominay and Fred’s movements.

"Man Utd could have driven a coach and horses through the middle of the pitch at times."

Much of the pre-match focus has centered upon Ronaldo's return, but Leeds' defeat suggests Newcastle must have a plan in place to contain the Red Devils' midfield.


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