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Premier League: Tensions bubbling under the surface at Man Utd

Talk of squad unrest has once again been a hot topic at Man Utd this week, overshadowing the build up to Sunday's tricky trip to Leeds.

For the first time in over 18 years, fans will be present at Elland Road for a league meeting between the two rivals and United can expect a hostile reception from the Whites' supporters.

Leeds have been struggling for form of late, winning two of their last nine league matches, but will no doubt be inspired to raise their game for the visit of a United side they lost 5-1 to in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season.

United are 4/5 to complete the double over the West Yorkshire outfit, who are 3/1 to exact some revenge, while the draw is 14/5.

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A boat can't have two captains

The landscape at Old Trafford looked very different when these two first met in August with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the dugout and Cristiano Ronaldo still to make his triumphant return to Manchester.

Bruno Fernandes bagged a hat-trick in the demolition of Leeds, part of a run of four wins from Utd's first five games that appeared to set them up for a potential title challenge.

Fast forward to February and the Red Devils are 500/1 to win the Premier League having fallen 20 points behind leaders Manchester City, while Solskjaer has been replaced by Ralf Rangnick.

For all of Solskjaer's faults, the Norwegian did a good job of keeping the dressing room together until the final days of his tenure, but his successor is finding it much tougher to bring harmony to United’s collection of stars.

Instead of discussing the trip to Leeds, Friday's pre-match press conference was spent addressing reports that Harry Maguire and Ronaldo were engaged in a power struggle over the captain’s armband.

Ronaldo is rumoured to have undermined Maguire's authority as skipper, a suggestion Rangnick has branded as "noise".

Rangnick can't escape the spotlight

Whether Maguire and Ronaldo have fallen out or not, United's dressing room doesn't appear to be pulling in the same direction under the German.

Rangnick has previously called out Anthony Martial for his attitude and says the atmosphere amongst the first team is better since the Frenchman left to join Sevilla in January.

The squad are also reportedly unhappy with the training methods implemented by the interim manager and his assistant Chris Armas, both of who had never coached in English football previously.

All the talk about issues behind the scenes have overshadowed United's push for a top-four finish and impending Champions League last 16 showdown with Atletico Madrid.

The Red Devils extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six games on Tuesday night with a 2-0 victory over Brighton, a result that moved them back into fourth place and they are 7/4 to stay there.

It was a promising performance from United after three straight 1-1 draws as Ronaldo opened his account for 2022, while Bruno Fernandes looked sharp as he found the back of the net late on. The Portuguese has now created more chances (71) than anyone else in the league this season and Leeds know all too well the danger he poses.

Relegation zone looming large for Leeds

The Whites got the season off to a bad start defensively at Old Trafford and it's never really improved with Marcelo Bielsa's men having conceded the second-highest number of goals in the division. They've allowed three in each of tier last two games, the most recent of which was a 3-0 loss at Everton.

That result leaves them six points above the drop zone entering the weekend and they're about to embark on a tough run of games that will see them face four sides who finished in the top half of the table last season.

Leeds' injury issues don’t look like ending anytime soon too with Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips still in the treatment room, while they have their old off-field distractions to deal with amid rumours over Bielsa's future at Elland Road.

A win over Man United would certainly go a long way to lifting the gathering storm clouds and the noises coming out of the camp are positive with Bielsa and Pascal Struijk acknowledging the significance of this game

Struijk stated told BBC Sport he "really, really wants to win" but this is a rivalry that's been one-sided in the Premier League era, Leeds coming out only four times in 27 meetings, while they've won only one of the last 16 league meetings with the Red Devils.

This Man Utd team is not like the ones of old though and a disjointed squad leaves the visitors vulnerable in what Leeds are billing as a season-defining fixture.

Rodgers keeping Wolves from the door

Bielsa is not alone in having his future discussed in the press this week with continued speculation over whether Brendan Rodgers will keep his job at Leicester.

A 4-1 win over Randers in the Europa Conference League on Thursday offered the embattled Foxes boss some respite but they now face a tough examination against Wolves side in the mix for the top four.

Wolves are up to seventh after winning four of their last five matches and are 6/5 to claim the scalp of Leicester, who are 11/5 having won the reverse fixture 1-0 in August, while the draw is 12/5.

That victory extended Leicester's undefeated streak against Wolves to five matches but they've all been tight, closely fought encounters, featuring a grand total of two goals.

Wolves have specialised in grinding out wins this season with 18 of their 23 games containing less than three goals and they look better placed to claim the spoils than a Leicester side with major defensive issues, contributing to a four-match winless run in the league.

That's the joint-longest winless run of the Rodgers era and while he insists he "is nowhere near finished" a decision on his future could be taken out of his hands if results don’t improve.

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