Antonio Conte has apologised for his emotional outburst following the defeat to Burnley that left his Tottenham future looking uncertain.

Spurs were beaten 1-0 by Burnley at Turf Moor on Wednesday, their fourth defeat in five league matches.

Conte, who replaced Nuno Espirito Santo in November, was unbeaten in his first nine top-flight matches in charge of Spurs, but that honeymoon period was followed by a frustrating few weeks.

In the wake of the loss to lowly Burnley, Conte suggested Spurs were exhibiting relegation form, that the club needed to make an "assessment about me" and that he was unsure if he was good enough to improve Spurs' fortunes.

But speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds United, Conte appeared to back-track, his comments seemingly just made in the spur of the moment.

"For sure, when I lose a game I am not the person to go and have a dinner. I think that I am not the right person, when I lose a game my mood is very bad and I prefer to stay alone and live the defeat, to stay alone and metabolise the defeat," he said.

"I need one day to recover, at least. This is me. It is me. I don't like to lose. If you ask me what I hate in life, it is to lose games. My mentality is to prepare myself, to prepare the players and to avoid this type of situation.

"There are many coaches that don't suffer [after a defeat]. I wanted to be a little soft but at the same time to be this way makes me a person that in his career I won as a player and then as a coach.

"For sure, when I lose, if you expect that I am happy or to come to a press conference and laugh, I am not this person.

"I am sorry if I show my disappointment because maybe it would be good to keep this inside and not show my emotion. I am an honest person it is difficult for me to lie or hide the truth and for this reason."

Conte also confirmed that he has since spoken to Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, and it would seem both men are on the same page.

"Yes, I spoke to Daniel Levy. Our chairman knows very well that I'm here to help the club in every moment. I will do that until the end," Conte continued.

"That's the reality and he knows that we're working hard. He has great consideration about our job and the job of my staff.

"I repeat I want to help the club with every aspect. He shows me great consideration every day and for this reason I'm committed for this club much more because I know the consideration for me is very high.

"The club confirmed to me that they know the reality. The club is very happy about my work and what we're doing with my staff, the change that we made in four months in the environment.

"I think the club is appreciating very much what we're doing in this moment. The problem is that I'm a perfectionist. I'm a person that wants to get to a result quickly."

Spurs head into the weekend in eighth, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, who have played two games more.

But bitter rivals Arsenal may well be the club they need to focus on catching, given they are just a point behind United and also have two games in hand on Ralf Rangnick's men – Conte, however, stressed the need to concentrate on the immediate future.

"I'm a realistic person and for now the most important thing is the present and not look forward too much," he said.

"We have to finish this season. We are working very hard and we deserve much more. The players at the club, especially our fans, deserve the best and for us to make them happy.

"It's important to be focused now. We're working well and we've started to go in the right direction despite negative or positive results. Also for the future, there is more clarification. To clean the situation and then to continue to build."

Sure, relying on Mohamed Salah every week is a decent fantasy football strategy, it's certainly good enough for most, but what happens when the Egyptian magician isn't in Premier League action?

With Liverpool in EFL Cup final duty against Chelsea, the Reds' fearsome front-line and creative full-backs are suddenly off limits to fantasy football managers across the land, while Arsenal and Chelsea are also out of league action.

However, courtesy of Opta-powered data, Stats Perform has managed to pick out some of gameweek 27's potential stars, featuring the England captain, an in-form Burnley new boy, and one of the Premier League's most lethal defenders.

HARRY KANE (Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur)

Despite Antonio Conte's team lurching to a fourth loss in five Premier League games at Turf Moor in midweek, the England captain remains the perfect pick for managers who need a big-hitter in Salah's absence.

Kane has been involved in seven goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances, registering six goals and an assist in that time. Meanwhile, five of those contributions, including four goals, have come on the road.

If that isn't enough to make managers' minds up, Kane will be facing a Leeds team which has already shipped 56 league goals this term, and has scored 10 goals in his eight Premier League appearances in Yorkshire. 

DAVID DE GEA (Manchester United v Watford)

For those looking for an adequate replacement for the likes of Allison or Edouard Mendy between the sticks, Red Devils stopper De Gea looks to be the perfect choice, ahead of a kind home fixture with Watford.

When looking at Opta's Expected Goals on Target data, no Premier League goalkeeper has prevented more goals than the Spaniard this season, with De Gea conceding 32 Premier League goals from 39.09 xG on target faced.

Although De Gea did ship four times when Watford ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils reign earlier this season, United have never lost a home league game against Watford, recording 11 wins and two draws against the Hornets at Old Trafford. They have not faced any other side in more home games during their league history without losing (also 13 unbeaten vs Hull City).

CRAIG DAWSON (West Ham United v Wolves)

The best fantasy football managers are those that find themselves looking for marginal gains, and what better way to do that than to pick one of the division's most lethal defenders?

Since the 2014-15 season, no Premier League defender can match Dawson's tally of 14 headed goals, and the big centre-back has now netted in successive games, against Leicester City and Newcastle United.

West Ham's next Premier League clash sees them take on Wolves at the London Stadium. For all their good form, the visitors are averaging under a goal per game this season, so Dawson could also be in with a chance of a clean sheet.

WOUT WEGHORST (Crystal Palace v Burnley, Burnley v Leicester City)

Finally, Burnley's towering Dutch striker Wout Weghorst stands out as an appealing under-the-radar selection, ahead of the Clarets facing two games in four days.

Since Weghorst made his move from Wolfsburg to Turf Moor, he has weighed in with a goal and two assists, meaning only Salah (three goals and one assist) has registered more goal involvements amongst Premier League players since his arrival.

Although Burnley's weekend opponents Crystal Palace have been buoyed by a 4-1 win over Watford, they then host a Leicester team which has conceded 40.61 expected goals this season, a tally worse than all but three Premier League teams, so another Weghorst contribution could be on the cards.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk hailed Joel Matip after both men found the net in a 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United, saying he wishes he had his defensive partner's technical ability.

Between two Mohamed Salah penalties, Matip strode forward to open his account for the season with a superb goal, while Van Dijk later completed the scoring after Sadio Mane had struck twice against the strugglers.

The dominant victory moved Jurgen Klopp's men to within three points of the Premier League summit, while Van Dijk and Matip contributed to Liverpool's 14th Premier League clean sheet of the campaign – only leaders Manchester City (15) have more.

However, it was Matip's dribbling ability that came in for praise from his partner, after the German defender's fantastic goal.

"It [dribbling out from the back] is a big quality of his," Van Dijk told the club's website after the win. "I wish I had that quality at times.

"He just can go without any fear at all and hope for the best a little bit.

"But he has that quality. It's a big strength of his and obviously it's useful because it drags other players from their position. Today, obviously, the space was there to make that run and finish it off. 

"I said to him before the game I felt it coming because he had an assist for Diogo [Jota, in a recent 2-0 win over Leicester] and I said, 'A goal is next!'

"So I'm obviously very happy for him."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted his side will have to win virtually all of their Premier League games to stand a chance of winning the title after a 6-0 hammering of Leeds United.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both hit doubles against Marcelo Bielsa's strugglers, while central defenders Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk joined them on the scoreboard as the Reds moved to within three points of leaders Manchester City. 

The gap between the Premier League's top two is now at its shortest since Christmas Day, when it also stood at three points, while Liverpool are unbeaten in 26 home matches in all competitions.

However, speaking to the BBC after the win, Klopp was keen to stress that the Reds will have to be near-perfect in order to push City close, and shifted his attention to Sunday's EFL Cup final against Chelsea.

"We have 10 days until we play the next league game, and we have two games in between, in completely different competitions," the head coach said.

"One is a final [against Chelsea] and the other a last 16 [the FA Cup fifth-round clash with Norwich City]. They will be different games, and we have to be ready for them.

"It [the gap] is three points until the weekend, and then City will probably win, and it will be six points. 

"If we win all our games, pretty much, there will be a chance for us.

"For people outside [of the club], it is better to have a three or six-point gap than to have a 20 or 30-point gap, so it is more exciting, but we have to win a lot of games against difficult opponents, and that will be a tricky task. 

"We will give it a try."

Mohamed Salah scored two penalties as Liverpool closed to within three points of Premier League leaders Manchester City with a 6-0 hammering of Leeds United at Anfield.

Salah netted either side of Joel Matip's superb strike to give Jurgen Klopp's team a comfortable advantage, before Sadio Mane added a late double of his own and Virgil van Dijk completed the scoring.

The stunning victory gives Liverpool renewed hope of catching Pep Guardiola's league leaders, who lost at home to Tottenham on Saturday and must still welcome the Reds to the Etihad Stadium.

City could have expected few favours from Leeds, however, with Marcelo Bielsa's men firmly in a relegation scrap with the league's most porous defence.

After a high-octane opening, Liverpool were awarded a 13th-minute spot-kick when Stuart Dallas handled a cross, allowing Salah to fire into the bottom corner.

Raphinha saw a tap-in ruled out for offside as Leeds looked to respond, but they found themselves two down after half an hour when Matip surged forward from the back, playing a one-two with Salah before thumping home his first goal of the campaign.

Rampant Liverpool earned a second penalty moments later, when Luke Ayling brought down Mane. Salah elected to smash the ball into the top corner this time, scoring two penalties in a single game at home to Leeds for a second season running.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has conceded injured forwards Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will not be fit for the Premier League clash with Leeds United, and that both face a race against time to make Sunday's EFL Cup final against Chelsea.

Jota, whose tally of 12 league goals for the season is bettered only by Mohamed Salah among Liverpool players, suffered a knock in last week's Champions League win at Inter, while Firmino reported discomfort after the same fixture.

Both forwards sat out the Reds' 3-1 Premier League win over Norwich, with fellow attackers Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz all finding the net.

Ahead of a week in which Liverpool can close the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League to just three points, before looking to lift their first domestic cup since 2012, Klopp was not hopeful about the pair's prospects.

"For tomorrow [Wednesday, against Leeds], no chance, and then [for] the final we will see", Klopp said. "It would be easy to say 'no' now, but we will see. 

"They are [pushing], but they were not on the training pitch [yet] so that's not a good sign. 

"We have to see what we can do with the boys in the next few days, and then make a decision later in the week."

Liverpool, who have only failed to score in one of their last 23 meetings with Leeds in all competitions, netting in each of their last 16 in a row since a goalless draw in April 1999, will go within three points of City if they beat the Whites at Anfield, but Klopp was keen to highlight Leeds' strengths before the contest.

"We saw all the faces of Leeds United on Sunday [in their 4-2 defeat to Manchester United]," he added.

"They are very brave and very exciting. Offensively, they go with everything they have. Defensively, you can cause them problems, but that is difficult as well, because of their man-marking all over the pitch.

"If you are not really up for the game, they will eat you."

There has been a fresh call for temporary concussion substitutes from England's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) after Leeds United were criticised for allowing Robin Koch back on to the pitch after sustaining a head injury.

Koch collided with Scott McTominay during the first half of Leeds' 4-2 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, with the German requiring lengthy treatment.

The blow to the defender's head led to blood pouring down onto his face and requiring a significant amount of bandaging.

He was initially brought back on to the pitch but was then withdrawn 15 minutes later after sitting down on the pitch looking groggy, subsequently requiring support as he was guided off the field.

The Premier League introduced a trial of additional permanent concussion substitutions (APCS) in February last year, with regulations stating that "if there are clear symptoms of concussion, or the video provides clear evidence of concussion, the team will be permitted to apply to replace the player with an additional permanent concussion substitution."

Leeds did not use an APCS, and the fact Koch was later taken off looking unwell led to the club being widely criticised in the media and on social media.

The PFA believes the incident proves APCS – the trial of which was extended into this season – are not working and should be replaced with temporary substitutions to decrease the pressure on those involved to make quick, and potentially risky, decisions.

"The injury to Leeds United's Robin Koch demonstrates again that the current concussion protocols within football are failing to prioritise player safety," a statement read.

"The 'if in doubt, sit them out' protocol is not being applied consistently within the pressurised environment of elite competitive football.

"We see frequent incidents of players returning to play with a potential brain injury, only to be removed shortly afterwards once symptoms visibly worsen.

"As the representative voice of players in England, we have been clear to the IFAB [International Football Association Board] that we want to see the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes.

"Temporary concussion substitutes will allow medical teams additional time and an appropriate environment to make an initial assessment.

"Introducing temporary substitutes would allow a match to restart with neither side numerically disadvantaged, reducing pressure on players and medical teams to make quick decisions on whether an injured player continues.

"Put simply, the current rules set by the IFAB are not working, and players are being put at risk."

 

Cristiano Ronaldo sent a pointed "We stand United!" message after helping Ralf Rangnick's Red Devils score a dramatic 4-2 win over old foes Leeds.

The Elland Road victory for Manchester United came at the end of a week when the unity within Rangnick's dressing room has been called into question.

Suggestions of leaks from players to the press have seen criticism aimed at United stars, while it was even claimed Ronaldo and Harry Maguire are in a power struggle over the captaincy.

Interim head coach Rangnick shot down reports he was considering a mid-season change of skipper, saying defender Maguire would keep the job for the rest of the season. The German is in no position to make a longer-term pledge, given he is due to make way for a permanent boss once the campaign ends.

Maguire has also scoffed at the suggestion of such bickering in the squad. It was defender Maguire who headed United ahead in Sunday's Premier League clash in Leeds, while he also won all five of his duels.

Ronaldo was substituted with five minutes remaining, and there was no discontent from the Portuguese at that decision, when in the past he has at times taken issue with being replaced.

The victory strengthens United's hold on fourth place, and Ronaldo later declared: "Very important Premier League win before we change our focus to the Champions League and head to Madrid. Back on track! We stand United!"

The 37-year-old forward sent that message to his social media followers, who number 404 million on Instagram and 97.5 million on Twitter.

Ronaldo was not the only United player to celebrate with fans, as goalkeeper David de Gea told the United faithful in an Instagram post: "I guess you enjoyed as much as I did."

Winger Jadon Sancho also reacted, declaring: "A game we had to win. We delivered together as a team. Have a nice evening Reds."

Midfield general Paul Pogba savoured the occasion, and United's attitude to being pegged back from 2-0 to 2-2, writing: "It's not over until it's over. Great team spirit today, massive three points."

Ralf Rangnick described Manchester United's thrilling win over Leeds United as the "best reply" to reports of dressing disunity.

The Red Devils ran out 4-2 victors over their trans-Pennine rivals in a Premier League classic at Elland Road.

First-half goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had the visitors coasting, but a quickfire double from Rodrigo and Raphinha had Leeds level by the 54th minute.

However, substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga were both on target to make it back-to-back Premier League wins for Rangnick's men.

The triumph comes at the end of a week in which captain Maguire and Marcus Rashford have both publicly denied articles claiming there is disharmony among Rangnick's squad.

Speaking at a news conference, interim boss Rangnick said: "We knew it was an important win today, similar to the one against West Ham, similar emotion at the end with a last-second goal.

"Today it was more important, not only that we won, but the way we reacted after conceding the equaliser, that was the best possible answer the team could give.

"It was perfect in regard to maturity and unity and the best reply they could give to some articles last week that there was disruption in the locker room.

"A game like this one today, you can only win as a team and the mentality of a team. Apart from the three points, this was the most important thing for me."

There is certainly no love lost between the two teams, but the hostile atmosphere at times boiled over with objects thrown in the direction of Manchester United players from sections of the home crowd.

Commenting on the unsavoury images, Rangnick added to MUTV: "As far as I know, there is some investigation going on from Leeds United.

"I don't think that anything happened in the end. Anthony Elanga looked well and he was happy about scoring his goal.

"Obviously things like that should not happen and I think even more so this game. The atmosphere was great.

"At times we had to cool down things on the pitch a little bit, but this is what I did when I walked onto the pitch [during a late fracas between the players]. I didn't want anything to happen – no yellow or red cards.

"In moments like this, I think it's important to try and cool things down."

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa said such things should not happen, though added he did not see what occurred.

"Any excess other than sporting should not be approved. I can't evaluate what you spoke about because I didn't see it," Bielsa said.

Ralf Rangnick praised the way in which Manchester United reacted to adversity in their thrilling win over Leeds United.

United had looked set for a comfortable win over their old rivals on Sunday when Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes gave them a 2-0 lead, but a rapid double from Leeds duo Rodrigo and Raphinha restored parity.

But substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga struck to ensure United opened up a four-point lead over fifth-placed West Ham in the Premier League. The Red Devils have scored 10 top-flight goals through substitutes this season, more than any other side.

And the character and maturity shown by United was of great satisfaction to Rangnick, who told reporters: "After the first 15 minutes, we had good control of the game and could have been three or four [goals] up.

"[But] within two minutes it was a completely different situation and atmosphere in the stadium. The five minutes after that were intense, very difficult for us, after that, the team showed maturity. 

"I don't know if this would have happened two or three months ago, but it happened today.

"It was not easy, even more so since we had [other] experiences like that, where we were 1-0 up or 2-1 up against Aston Villa and only got one point [in a 2-2 draw last month]. 

"It was important as an experience for the team, not only for the three points."

The 59 seconds between Rodrigo and Raphinha's goals marked the fastest that a team has scored twice in the same league game against United since West Brom in May 2013 (52 seconds), in what was Alex Ferguson's final game in charge.

But like his manager, captain Maguire was delighted with United's reaction.

"I think that [the reaction to Leeds' equaliser] was the most pleasing aspect," Maguire told Sky Sports.

"We had to stick together. We knew it's a tough place to come but we knew we had qualities and that we could hurt them."

Maguire's opener was the Old Trafford club's first goal from a corner since a 3-1 win over Burnley in April 2021, and represented the England defender's first goal of the Premier League season.

United also became the first team in Premier League history to reach 700 wins in the competition.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa acknowledged "it is impossible not to be worried" by the prospect of relegation after his side went down 4-2 to Manchester United.

Headers from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had United ahead on Sunday, before Rodrigo and Raphinha struck in the space of two minutes to level things up in the second half.

But substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga secured victory for Ralf Rangnick's team to leave Leeds winless from their last four Premier League outings, and they sit just five points above the relegation zone.

Everton and the resurgent Newcastle United are the two teams immediately below the 15th-placed Leeds, propping the gap between Bielsa's side and the last relegation spot occupied by Watford.

Burnley, who are in 19th, are six points behind the Whites but also boast two games in hand as they look to make a late survival push following a 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

With key players Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford still injured, and Liverpool and Tottenham as Leeds' next opponents, Bielsa recognises the difficult task at hand.

"It is impossible not to be worried," Bielsa told Sky Sports. "We have conceded 50 goals. Do you think I cannot be worried? How can I not feel responsible?

"We have to defend better. We are missing Kalvin Phillips and Robin Koch was substituted and we could not count on Pascal [Struijk] in midfield because he went back into defence. 

"Not being able to come with the three defensive midfielders we have, there is a weakness in the recovery of the ball.

"In the first half we started well and ended well but didn't manage to score. In the moments we lost dominance they scored.

"After we got back level we had the chance to go 3-2 up and straight away they went up and scored again. 

"We played better trying to get back into the game than when we were trying to keep a result but something has repeated that is difficult to resolve."

It was the fourth time Leeds have conceded at least four goals in a Premier League game this season – no side has done so more often so far this term.

Substitute Fred was the hero as Manchester United withstood a second-half fightback to defeat rivals Leeds United 4-2 and become the first team to register 700 Premier League wins.

First-half goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had the visitors seemingly coasting towards three points in Sunday's contest at a sodden Elland Road.

But Leeds' reputation for chaos coupled with United's for showing a soft centre each came to fruition as two goals in the space of 59 seconds from Rodrigo and Raphinha turned the game on its head.

There would be another twist, though, as Fred drilled home just three minutes after entering the fray to help the Red Devils secure a double over their cross-Pennine rivals, with a slice of history confirmed when fellow sub Anthony Elanga netted late on.

Blood was literally spilled by Robin Koch after a clash of heads with Scott McTominay, which later led to the Leeds defender going off.

David de Gea beat away an Adam Forshaw stinger prior to Paul Pogba laying the ball across the face of goal for Cristiano Ronaldo, who scooped a close-range effort straight at Illan Meslier.

Meslier kept out Fernandes but from the follow-up corner Maguire emphatically headed in Luke Shaw's delivery.

Fernandes then nodded in a beauty of a dinked cross from Jadon Sancho at the end of a slick counter to double the lead on the stroke of half time.

A chaotic 59-second period in the second half dramatically saw Leeds level by the 54th minute.

Rodrigo's cross from the left deceived De Gea and found the far corner, before Forshaw robbed Fernandes of possession prior to Dan James' low cross being met on the slide by half-time sub Raphinha.

But United would regain the lead when Fred hammered past Meslier at his near post after being teed up by Sancho with 20 minutes to play, and Elanga rolled home a fourth with the clock winding down.

Cristiano Ronaldo's appearance in Manchester United's trip to Elland Road to face Leeds United saw the Portuguese legend record yet another entry into the Premier League record books.

In taking to the field on Sunday, the 37-year-old faced off against Leeds for the first time since October 18, 2003, marking the longest gap between a player's appearances against a specific opponent in the competition's history (18 years and 125 days).

Ronaldo was actually booked for diving on his first appearance at Elland Road, which came just two months into his first spell with the Red Devils, although Alex Ferguson's team stole a late 1-0 win on that day thanks to captain Roy Keane's header.

Ronaldo's goal in United's 2-0 win Brighton and Hove Albion last time out meant he has now scored against 168 different club and international sides during his glittering career, as the forward turns his attention to firing the Old Trafford club to Champions League qualification amid a frustrating campaign. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's future with Manchester United is uncertain amid a difficult season at Old Trafford.

The 37-year-old only joined United from Juventus in August, following interest from rivals Manchester City.

But the Red Devils are well out of the title race, with Ronaldo contributing nine league goals, in a tumultuous season that has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer axed as manager.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WOULD BOW TO RONALDO TRANSFER DEMANDS

Manchester United will allow five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo to depart if he demands to depart in the off-season, reports the Sunday Mirror.

The Portuguese is ready to quit the Red Devils should they miss the top four and subsequently fail to qualify for the Champions League.

The report claims that Ronaldo was expecting to transfer United into title contenders but that his presence has become a sideshow, meaning they are willing to let him go.

 

ROUND-UP

- Raphinha has caught the eye of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona but Leeds United plan to rebuff any offers him in the off-season according to The Mirror.

- The Mirror also reports that Arsenal are in the race for Napoli's Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz , joining Madrid and Barcelona.

- Liverpool target Fabio Carvalho is being pursued by Manchester United too, claims the Daily Star. The Fulham teenager came close to joining the Reds in January.

- Manchester City and Raheem Sterling are set for contract talks at the end of the season but the English leaders may sell him if he does not agree to a new deal, according to the Times.

- Fiorentina are interested in Manchester United full-back Diogo Dalot but would need to convince him to lower his wages, reports La Nazione. Dalot is in line for a new deal with United according to the Star.

- Liverpool Echo reports that Everton's Jean-Philippe Gbamin could join CSKA Moscow on loan with the Russian transfer window open until February 22.

Since Ralf Rangnick took charge at Manchester United, much of the focus on them has revolved around – unsurprisingly – how they press, or don't, for that matter.

Of course, the overriding narrative when he was appointed fixated on how he was the supposed 'godfather of gegenpressing' and would definitely have United pressing more effectively than Liverpool in a matter of weeks…

Okay, there probably weren't many making such grand claims, but the point remains: United's off-the-ball work became the focus.

That meant their rather underwhelming attacking displays went a little unnoticed until Rangnick started talking about their expected goals (xG) after their 1-1 draw with Southampton.

As it turns out, since Rangnick's arrival, United have underperformed their non-penalty xG by 5.5 across all competitions, the worst of any Premier League team in that time. When you do consider spot-kicks, that gap increases to 6.1. Brentford are the second-worst in both metrics (4.31 and 3.67, respectively).

United simply aren't scoring as many goals as they should given the quality of the chances they're creating, but you can spin that into a positive.

Assuming they continue to craft opportunities at a similar rate, they should – in theory – level out with respect to xG. Considering recent meetings with Leeds United and their own woes, could Marcelo Bielsa's men be the tonic they need?

LEEDS LATE TO RIVALRY PARTY

Matches against Man Utd are, in all likelihood, the first games your average Leeds fan will look for when the fixture list is released ahead of the season. While the rivalry may not be as fierce competitively on the pitch as it once was, the two sets of supporters still despise each other.

These rivalry clashes haven't been especially kind to Leeds since their long-awaited return to the Premier League, though.

Over the three games, Leeds haven't won once and trail 11-3 on aggregate, with United demolishing them 6-2 at Old Trafford last season and 5-1 there in August. The 0-0 draw at Elland Road in April last season is as good as it's got – that's also the last time the Red Devils failed to score on the road.

Leeds suffered those two Old Trafford nightmares having previously only conceded five or more goals away to United in all competitions twice in their previous 50 visits.

Further to that, the 6-2 was the first time a Bielsa team had conceded six times in a competition match since he was in charge of Newell's Old Boys in February 1992.

It was also the first occasion United had scored at least six goals since "I'd 8-2 be an Arsenal fan" happened, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men having netted just three times in their previous six home league games.

Of course, last season's clash at Elland Road was the opposite of a goal fest. The main difference this time is that the game won't be behind closed doors, though Leeds weren't quite this defensively feeble then.

LEAKS UNITED

It is worth mentioning that, indeed, Leeds were not as leaky last season, as has been said. But even when they were in good shape, few would consider them among the tightest teams at the back.

Their 54 concessions in 2020-21 may not have been alarming in itself, with six teams letting in more, but at a rate of 1.4 goals conceded every game they were always likely to find themselves in a little danger if, A) they stopped scoring as often, or B) they didn't improve the defence.

Sure enough, injuries have played a massive part in Leeds' struggles this season, with most of their key players spending at least a short period on the sidelines.

That's been especially felt at the back. While Leeds' goals scored per game remains at a similar – albeit slightly lower – rate (1.5 down from 1.6), their concessions have rocketed from 1.4 every match to 2.0.

Only Norwich City (50) have conceded more Premier League goals than Leeds this season (46), and 26 of those have come in the nine matches since their last clean sheet in November. It's a diabolical run.

Granted, it would appear they have been somewhat unfortunate. Their expected goals against (xGA) (40.4) is 4.6 lower than their goals conceded (excluding own goals) record, suggesting they have on occasion been punished by particularly impressive finishing.

But their xGA remains the third-poorest in the league and, as the graphic above suggests, they've been conceding higher-value chances than they've been creating on average practically all season. That -0.74 differential on their rolling average between non-penalty (np) xG for and xGA heading into the weekend highlights just how much worse they are defensively than they are good going forward at the moment.

THAT ONE'S A KEEPER

An interesting underlying narrative ahead of this clash is the form of the respective goalkeepers.

David de Gea is arguably back to his very best, the Spaniard enjoying a wonderful season after falling out of favour in 2020-21 – it's as though Dean Henderson's emergence as a viable replacement spooked him into pulling his finger out.

Whereas Illan Meslier is – according to the numbers at least – having a very difficult season.

That's not necessarily to say Meslier is entirely to blame. In fact, he's not made any Opta-defined errors leading to shots this term, whereas De Gea has made two. Similarly, as Leeds' xGA shows, they give away a lot of chances and there's only so much a goalkeeper – and a young one at that – can do.

Indeed, Meslier was considered one of few positives from Leeds' recent 3-0 battering by Everton, yet the numbers don't make for such kind reading.

According to Opta's 'goals prevented' metric, Meslier should have stopped as many as 7.3 of the goals he has conceded this season, by far the worst record in the league (Vicente Guaita: 5.1). De Gea, on the other hand, has apparently been the most decisive keeper, actively preventing 6.9 goals and making a division-high 92 saves.

Meslier is ranked second for saves (80), but it would also seem he has let in several goals the average keeper might've been expected to keep out.

Intriguingly, United's rolling average in terms of np-xG for and xGA has their current differential as the exact inverse of that of Leeds, with Rangnick's side enjoying a positive 0.74 difference in favour of xG for, meaning they are creating better chances than they concede and are seemingly at their most cohesive in attack all season.

It's by far the biggest rolling average gap United have seen this term – at least in favour of xG for – and the 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in midweek looked like another step towards being a more ruthless attacking unit.

Creating chances hasn't really been a problem in recent weeks, the issue has been finishing them off. While rivalry meetings can be unpredictable, and a full house at Elland Road should at least ensure the hosts have a vocal backing, it wouldn't be in the least bit surprising if Leeds are proven to be the cannon fodder United need.

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