King Power Stadium, Leicester
Saturday 28th November 2015, 1730 GMT
Surprise league leaders Leicester City host Manchester United at the King Power Stadium in the late kick-off on Saturday, hoping to win their first match against one of the top sides in the league.
Of all the outlandish predictions fans and pundits made before the start of the 2015-2016 Premier League season, none quite had the prescience to predict that Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City would be top of the league at the end of November — a full third of the way into the season. Yet that is where the Foxes find themselves, and on Saturday, they have the opportunity to prove to the football world that it hasn’t all been a fluke.
Manchester United will only be their third ‘top’ opposition, with Leicester previously losing to Arsenal FC and fighting back to earn a draw against Tottenham Hotspur — both of those games played within the familiar confines of the King Power Stadium. The 32,000-seater will once again be the venue on Saturday as Ranieri’s men look to make a statement by beating the second-placed Red Devils, while the Premier League’s star of the season, Jamie Vardy, chases a historic record of his own.
Team News and Tactics
Claudio Ranieri has nearly his full squad to choose from for the top-of-the-table clash, with the only injury absentee being Matty James, who hasn’t featured for the Foxes since suffering a knee injury against Southampton in May last season. The Italian has declared that Jamie Vardy will be fit to play, despite the slight niggle the England striker has been carrying since the international break.
Leicester City are likely to field a 4-4-1-1 formation, as they have in their last two home games, with attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez playing behind the league’s top scorer Jamie Vardy. Ranieri will not be worried about Manchester United keeping much of the possession, and will instead be counting on his side to be lethal on the counter. That is essentially how the victory against Newcastle United in their previous league outing came about, and it is also how the Foxes downed United in the corresponding fixture last season.
The more defensive Jeffrey Schlupp is likely to return to the left of midfield — meaning Marc Albrighton will switch flanks and play from the right — given the danger United pose from that side, with Juan Mata likely to start along with the attacking Ashley Young at right-back.
Leicester’s game plan will largely be to try and catch Louis van Gaal’s side in possession and break quickly with the pace of Albrighton, Schlupp, Mahrez, and most importantly, Vardy. The striker will be aiming to score his 11th goal in as many games, and thus attempting to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in the most consecutive matches in the league (10).
Possible starting line-up: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan (C), Huth, Fuchs; Albrighton, Kant , Drinkwater, Schlupp; Mahrez; Vardy
Louis van Gaal has several injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s clash, particularly in defence, with Phil Jones being ruled out due to an ankle injury. Luke Shaw (broken leg), Antonio Valencia (ankle) and Paddy McNair (liver) remain long-term absentees, while midfielder Ander Herrera will miss the match after picking up a hamstring injury against Watford in the Red Devils’ 2-1 win last weekend.
Michael Carrick is doubtful for the match due to an ankle problem, while there are reports that attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard and left-sided defender Marcos Rojo could also miss the trip to the Kind Power Stadium.
Van Gaal will persist with his 4-2-3-1 formation, with French teenager Anthony Martial returning to lead the attack after recovering from a foot injury picked up during the international break, while Memphis Depay could find himself in the starting XI on the left of the attacking midfield — particularly if Jesse Lingard is ruled out.
Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin will once again anchor the midfield, and will have the important job of keeping the likes of Riyad Mahrez in check, given the midfielder’s ability to pick up the ball in pockets of space in the final third and play it through to the lightning quick Jamie Vardy.
United’s attack has been a problem all season, with Red Devils’ fans themselves decrying the style of play, and as such, getting an early goal as they did at Watford in their last league outing will be crucial — even more so given that Leicester City will have to come out of their comfort zone somewhat and try and break the Red Devils’ down rather than playing on the break.
Possible starting line-up: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Mata, Rooney (C), Memphis; Martial
- Manchester United have won 10 of their last 11 Premier League matches against Leicester City.
- Leicester City are the only team in Premier League history to come from two goals down to beat Manchester United, winning 5-3 in the corresponding fixture last season.
- Leicester City have recovered more points from losing positions (10) than any other team in the league this season.
- Manchester United and Leicester City have produced 18 goals between them in their last four league meetings
- Leicester City are unbeaten since September, winning five out of their last six Premier League matches.
Player to watch
The eyes of the world will be directed at only one man when Leicester City host Manchester United on Saturday. Jamie Vardy’s story is truly incredible — one that, without exaggeration, can be termed a ‘rags to riches’ tale — and the league’s top scorer now finds himself on the brink of breaking a historic Premier League record.
By scoring against Newcastle United last weekend, Vardy equalled former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive league games, and now has the opportunity of going one better against the Red Devils. The Englishman has been among the league’s best players, and will try to cause the United defence all sorts of problems with his pace on the break and his ability so sneak in behind the defence and latch on to through balls from the likes of Mahrez.
Leicester City 1 – 1 Manchester United
Leicester City match up very well against United given that Van Gaal’s side likes to keep possession, while Ranieri’s team is lethal on the counter-attack. Unlike most of the teams the Foxes have faced thus far, however, United are very good at keeping possession and as such, are less likely to make mistakes and give their opponents chances to counter. However, they have themselves been struggling for goals this season. A low-scoring draw is on the cards.
Blast from the past