For the first time all season, Manchester United do not have a midweek game in the coming days.

In this most hectic of seasons, United have not had a single full week off until now.

The next match is not until Sunday’s trip to Elland Road, where United can expect a similar reception to Liverpool in light of their agreement to join the new European Super League.

We’ve had a look at four ways United can use the long overdue break to their advantage…

Manchester United v Burnley - Premier League
(Martin Rickett – Pool/Getty Images)

Work on set-pieces

United looked nervous when crosses game into the box all afternoon long against Burnley.

James Tarkowski bullied Harry Maguire for the equalising goal and Dean Henderson’s decision making in terms of coming out to collect was not the best either.

It’s been an issue all through the season but United haven’t had the days on the training pitch to hammer it out.

Leeds are not the most imposing side from attacking set-pieces, and United could actually exploit their weaknesses defensively on Sunday.

But moving forward, United need to be more secure when defending crosses into their box and that all starts with work on the training ground.

Get Bailly back fit

Eric Bailly has finally returned to training at Carrington and he can be a key player in the closing weeks of the season if he stays fit.

A full week of work should help get the defender back in contention for selection, and he’s not the only player who will benefit.

Juan Mata has only recently returned to the fold and hasn’t had much gametime to get sharp.

Donny van de Beek is in a similar position, although he has had more match time and of course there’s Marcus Rashford.

 

A full week to work on his recovery without being pressed into action in midweek is a real boost to Rashford, who is battling multiple injuries to play his part in United’s season.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-LEEDS
(NICK POTTS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Get ready to match Leeds physically

Leeds are probably the fittest side in the league and benefit from the breaks within games.

United managed to thump them 6-2 during a busy period in December and were relentless in terms of running into the space Marcelo Bielsa’s side left behind.

With a full week of rest, there’s no reason why United couldn’t do that again.

Leeds might have looked to exploit any tiredness if they were facing us on the back of a European excursion, but United should be fighting fit for this one.

Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
(Oli Scarff – Pool/Getty Images)

Clear heads for crunch time

It goes without saying that the period without a game should allow physical freshness to come back.

But mentally, it also provides an opportunity for Solskjaer, his staff and players to step off the treadmill of game, recover, game and take stock, especially with the off field drama of the Super League taking centre stage.

United have lost their last four semi-finals and have another on the way against Roma.

With second place looking more and more secure by the week, perhaps Solskjaer can plan ahead and see when he might get a chance to rotate his squad.

That said, a game against Liverpool is sandwiched between the two legs of the Roma clash, so it’s full speed ahead again after the short break without a match.

If United use their longest break of the season wisely, it could provide the springboard for a successful end to the campaign and a first trophy since 2017.

It may fade into relative insignificance if the Glazers insist on continuing to drag the club’s name through the mud off the pitch but Solskjaer will want to keep his players focused on what’s happening on the pitch – even though it would be nice to hear them emphatically speak out about matters off it.

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