Manchester United cruised to a 3-1 win against Northampton that, contrarily to the initial statement, should have been far easier than it was. Goals from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, and Michael Carrick reduced the pressure on the club to perform, but the spotlight will shine brighter than ever if they fail to beat the Premier League Champions, Leicester City, at Old Trafford on Saturday. Leicester made extraordinary out of the ordinary to win the Premier League, much like many say United is trying to do. Saturday’s clash will go a long way in saying whether or not United really has the quality, and Iain Ridley, Paul Bienkowski and I, Aaron Moniz, give our shouts for the match.
Iain Ridley: Finally, we have a win after the week from hell but Jose has some big selection issues to battle with ahead of the Leicester game. The biggest issue is 100% the midfield. Who plays alongside Pogba? Does Rooney gets dropped or not? In my opinion, Rooney should be dropped; he’s a legend of the club but his form is poor and that’s what selection should be based upon. I’ve gone for a combination of Carrick, Herrera, and Pogba. It was a tough choice between Schneiderlin and Carrick, but in the game against Northampton, Carrick bossed the game. I think we’ve lacked that calming influence. Bailly should come back in alongside Smalling who again played well at Northampton after his shocker against Watford. Darmian to cover Shaw at left back instead of Rojo who doesn’t deserve to wear the shirt.
Martial, if fit, should slot back in on the left-hand side of the attack with Rashford right and Ibrahimovic through the centre. I’d love for Memphis to get a start but it seems unlikely with Rashford playing so well no matter his position.
Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera, Pogba; Martial, Ibrahimovic, Rashford
I think United will have too much for Leicester, they don’t have that solidity at the back thus far this season and I think we’ll expose that especially if we play 4-3-3. I can’t, however, see us keeping a clean sheet, with the pace of Vardy and Mahrez as well as the ability of Slimani, Leicester will threaten on the counter. Last season we got punished on a set piece and then a Vardy counter, the latter seems more likely this time round. United need a win and I think Saturday will bring it.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Leicester City
Aaron Moniz: I didn’t catch the Northampton game, but based on what I’ve heard, United still needs to solve some tactical disputes to make the best of a side brimming with talent. Be sure Leicester City will capitalize on United’s weaknesses- it’s been an attribute of manager Claudio Ranieri for his entire career, through all the adversity he faced.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah comes in at right-back for two reasons, even though I believe Antonio Valencia will start- firstly, he’s able to defend in central areas, and secondly, I’ve replaced Marouane Fellaini in midfield and Fosu-Mensah makes up the height bill. Daley Blind isn’t suited to a match like this at centre-back, but until the partnership of Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling is sorted out, he needs to start with the Ivorian. Matteo Darmian should replace Luke Shaw at left-back, but I’d like to see Joe Riley or Blind if it doesn’t work out after a few tries. I think Darmian could be the backup left-back on a long-term basis.
In midfield, Morgan Schneiderlin is more suited to the fixture than Michael Carrick, who wasn’t eye-catching in the Community Shield, and the extra pace will be needed to cover Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba, dovetailing to rip Leicester’s midfield two apart. On the left, I’ve gone with Marcus Rashford because he’s earned it, he’s scored twice from there in the last two games and Anthony Martial desperately needs a rest. On the right, I think Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be fit by now and it’s the perfect game to unleash him once and for all. I’ll cry if Wayne Rooney starts.
Starting XI: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Schneiderlin, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic, Rashford
United has the attacking tools to rip Leicester apart, and doing less than that would be unacceptable. N’Golo Kante no longer makes up for mismatches in midfield, and the key to the match will be Schneiderlin driving from deep and creating space for Herrera and Pogba to create chances. If that works out, United can outscore Leicester and win the match.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-2 Leicester City
Paul Bienkowski: Manchester United have had a tough time this month losing three matches in a row, ending that with a 3-1 victory over Northampton Town in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening. United need to have a look at themselves, look at the players not helping things, and get everything sorted in time to face Leicester City on Saturday in the first kick-off of the weekend. Jose Mourinho has implemented some big changes at the club this season, which started off well but soon reached the basement level for some. United ended the chances of losing four matches on the bounce, which was good to see, but that does not automatically mean they are back to being that club that should be ripping teams apart. There is a long way to go yet. Mourinho has a few injuries at the moment, and players who are still doubts for this match, but with a strong, fully fit squad, things could go from strength to strength for the Portuguese manager. After Wednesday’s victory, changes will again be made and I feel the starting XI should look like this;
Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Carrick, Pogba, Herrera; Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Memphis
United need to start ensuring that they will at home matches, playing two so far this season; winning one of them. It is imperative that Leicester City leaves Old Trafford without any points, or with just one, which seems to be the result here from the past two seasons at least. Saying that, I hope United have learned that it is matches like this that can be the difference between winning and losing during the season. Last season, we saw many matches which United should have won, ended up drawing or losing, adding them together, it could have seen United at least finish in fourth place last season, finishing just behind Manchester City, level on points, only goal difference separating them. Leicester City are the current champions, last season could have seen them win the league at Old Trafford, which was not the best situation for Louis van Gaal’s side to find themselves in, with the draw not giving them enough points to secure the inevitable. Beating them at Old Trafford could go a long way to making things right again. United have the players to do so, but those players need to play, leaving the ones incapable at home, on the bench, or in the stands.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City