Manchester United will be aiming to return to winning ways when they welcome Leicester City to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
After a two-week hiatus due to the international break, Premier League football returns to action this weekend. And stuttering giants Manchester United will be hoping to get their campaign back on track against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City side at Old Trafford on Saturday.
It has been a poor start to the 2019-20 campaign for Manchester United. The Red Devils’ may have kicked off things in style with a 4-0 win against Chelsea, but it has been pretty much downhill from thereon, as they have failed to pick up any victories in their subsequent three fixtures.
Following a draw against Wolves and a defeat to Crystal Palace, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were held to a 1-1 stalemate by a ten-man Southampton outfit, leaving them in the eighth place in the Premier League table, with five points on the board. Solskjaer will want to correct course before things get worse, but a spate of injuries to key players might hamper their chances on Saturday.
Leicester City, on the other hand, are yet to beaten this season. After being held to draws in their first two fixtures, the Foxes have secured back to back victories and find themselves in the third spot in the standings, four points shy of leaders Liverpool and two below reigning champions Manchester City.
In their most recent fixture, Brendan Rodgers’ men put away AFC Bournemouth 3-1 courtesy a Jamie Vardy brace along with Youri Tielemans’ goal. With Manchester City scheduled to play after them, Leicester have a chance to move into second place temporarily and they would want to make the most of Manchester United’s current injury troubles and poor form.
Ahead of this enticing fixture on Matchday 5 of the 2019-20 Premier League, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
As mentioned earlier, Manchester United have serious problems ahead of the weekend fixture. Midfield mainstay Paul Pogba has been ruled out with an ankle injury that he picked up against Southampton, while fellow Frenchman Anthony Martial will also sit out as he recovers from his thigh problem that kept him out of the fixture at St. Mary’s.
Full-backs Luke Shaw (hamstring) and Diogo Dalot (hip) are still sidelined for Manchester United along with Eric Bailly (knee) who is expected to be back towards the end of the year. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (back) and Jesse Lingard (illness) both withdrew from the England squad during the international break and are doubts for the Leicester game as well.
David de Gea, who is reportedly close to signing a new contract with Manchester United, should continue between the sticks on Saturday. With Wan-Bissaka a doubt, captain Ashley Young is likely to slot in as the right-back whereas Marcos Rojo should get the nod on the opposite flank. Harry Maguire is a guaranteed starter against his former club and will be partnered by Victor Lindelof.
Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic is set for his first start of the season in the midfield double pivot alongside academy graduate Scott McTominay. The former Chelsea man has a tendency of slowing things down in the middle of the park when in possession, but needs to move the ball quickly and precisely if United are to make use of the pacy forwards in their ranks.
Summer signing Daniel James has been a big positive for the Red Devils so far this term and should hold on to his spot on the left flank, while Juan Mata should feature in the No. 10 role against the Foxes. Andreas Pereira hasn’t been quite convincing and may indeed be dropped in favour of the young Mason Greenwood on the right wing, while Marcus Rashford continues to lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Rojo; McTominay, Matic; Greenwood, Mata, James; Rashford
In contrast to Manchester United, Leicester City have very few injury concerns heading into Saturday’s encounter. Matty James is a long-term absentee for the Foxes, while Daniel Amartey is working his way back to full fitness. Captain Wes Morgan has recovered from a lower back problem.
Manager Rodgers has used a 4-1-4-1 setup more often than not this season and is likely to stick with the same formation when he takes his team to Old Trafford this weekend. Kasper Schmeichel is the undisputed No. 1 for Leicester and is a certainty to start on Saturday.
At right-back Ricardo Pereira is a shoe-in, while Ben Chilwell should continue to keep the experienced Christian Fuchs out of the team in the left-back slot. Despite Morgan’s recovery, the Foxes are expected to stick with the defensive pairing of Caglar Soyuncu and former Manchester United star Jonny Evans.
Wilfred Ndidi is the obvious pick in the holding midfield role for the Foxes, while the creativity and the forward thrust is likely to come from the attacking midfield duo of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison, both of whom have been on Manchester United’s radar in the past.
Harvey Barnes has made a bright start to the campaign and should continue on the left wing. However, there is a possibility that Hamza Choudhury starts in midfield, with Maddison moving to the left. Workhorse Marc Albrighton should hold on to his spot on the right, with in-form striker Jamie Vardy spearheading the attack and looking to make life difficult for former teammate Maguire.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Albrighton, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
- Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.70
- Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 2.10
- Leicester to win @ 4.00
- This will be the 129th meeting between the two sides. Manchester United have the clear upper hand when it comes to head-to-head record, having won 66 matches, while Leicester City have come out on top on just 33 occasions (29 draws).
- Manchester United have not lost a single game against Leicester City at Old Trafford in over two decades. Their last defeat at home against the Foxes came in January 1998.
- Leicester City last haven’t been able to defeat Manchester United since their 5-3 triumph at home under Nigel Pearson in September 2014.
- Manchester United have lost three of their last five Premier League games at Old Trafford (W1 D1), as many as they had lost in their previous 52 home matches (W32 D17 L3).
- Should Leicester avoid defeat on Saturday, it would be only the second time in the last 19 seasons that the Foxes have gone unbeaten in their first five league games of a season – they went on to win the Premier League title in the other (2015-16 – W3 D2 L0).
Player to Watch
The 21-year-old summer signing has been one of the few positives of the new season for Manchester United. James has made a great start to life at Old Trafford and has found the back of the net on three occasions in his four appearances so far and has impressed with his raw pace and finishing abilities.
Should he go on to score against Leicester City on Saturday, James stands to become only the second Manchester United player to score in his first three Premier League appearances at Old Trafford, with the other being his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who achieved the feat in 1996. Given the form that James is in, one wouldn’t put it past him to find the net again this week.
Manchester United 1-2 Leicester City
Manchester United’s campaign has hit a rocky road after their opening victory against Chelsea. No wins in their previous three matches has heaped pressure on the manager to get things back on track at the earliest. Leicester City, in contrast, are yet to be beaten this season and head into Saturday’s game on the back of consecutive victories against Sheffield United and Bournemouth.
Barring the Chelsea game, the Red Devils have lacked the cutting edge in the final third, while they haven’t been totally convincing at the back either. Leicester, on the other hand, have looked dangerous every time they venture in the final third of the pitch with the likes of James Maddison, Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans posing a serious threat.
It promises to be an exciting encounter at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, but Paul Pogba’s absence is likely to leave Manchester United without a creative presence on the field, which will affect their chances of winning. We at The Hard Tackle are predicting Leicester to end their two-decade long winless streak at Old Trafford with a 1-2 scoreline.