Old Trafford, Manchester
Premier League 2016/17
Saturday 24th September 2016 – KO 12:30 [Live on Sky Sports]
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistant Referees: Simon Long and Ian Hussin
Fourth Official: Lee Mason
Manchester United will be pitted against the Premier League champions Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, the sixth match of the new league season. United won their first three matches in the league, beating Bournemouth 3-1, Southampton 2-0, and Hull City 1-0, before falling to defeats against Manchester City; 2-1 and Watford; 3-1. United also lost their first UEFA Europa League group stage match away to Feyenoord, conceding an offside goal late in the first half of the match. Fresh from three defeats in a row, United beat Northampton Town 3-1 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening, ending their chances of four defeats in a row in a performance which was less than perfect against the League One side, but enough to earn a place in the fourth round of the competition, facing Manchester City at Old Trafford on the 26th October. United now need to step up their game against the Premier League champions, who themselves had not started their season well and currently sitting in the eleventh position in the league, not getting much negative press from the media, which is something United cannot say, still, United are the media’s meal ticket as everyone wants to read about them; hated, adored, never ignored!
Over the past few weeks, United had not been playing well with stars such as Wayne Rooney, Paul Pogba and even Luke Shaw being slated for performances, more so for Rooney and Pogba. United started well against Leicester City at the start of the season at Wembley, beating the champions 2-1 and lifting the FA Community Shield, which started the season off with a win, which was soon followed by another three. Jose Mourinho has had the best start at the club as a new manager, but the three defeats that soon followed saw criticism reach a new high with some bookies slashing odds on the Portuguese being sacked by the club this season, which would be a massive fail for the club after affording Louis van Gaal two season’s at the club and the Portuguese manager has a lot of work to undertake, especially to get rid of Van Gaal’s playing style at the club, which has seemed to rear itself during the three defeats. United’s players also need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror as it is time to stand up and be counted.
Three defeats in a row is poor form, and with the victory over the Cobblers on Wednesday, United have raised their confidence levels and will now need to do so again against Premier League opposition, the champions. September is close to ending for United, six matches will have been played by the end of the month, but that will happen again in October with United facing Stoke City, Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Burnley, so it will not be a month whereby United will be able to rest on their laurels, but pull performances out of the bag, bettering their league position, their position in the Europa League and giving themselves an early cup run in the EFL Cup with City a side that currently stands in their way and already holds the bragging rights after beating Mourinho’s side at Old Trafford already, despite te match being close in the second half, a match they City could have easily lost. Mourinho will be looking for a rise from his squad, players to start pulling the performances out of the bag which will make United the talk of the town once again, get them out of the basement they are currently in, which sees them as a club that is there for the taking, as far as recent performances have gone.
United will be looking to bring the fear factor back to Old Trafford this season. So far, only Southampton and Manchester City have played at the Theatre of Dreams this season and United have won 50% of those matches, so extending that against the champions will be necessary for that to start to happen this season. Over the past three years, we have seen the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City and even Norwich City winning at Old Trafford, which would not have been something that would have happened under Sir Alex Ferguson, who is still missed at the club, but he always will be based on what he brought with him for near on 27 years. United are in good hands right now, they have a good squad, apart from a few players who need to work a lot harder. Jose Mourinho is a winner, he is doing all he can do currently, but for that to continue, the players need to perform on the pitch. The manager can train the players ahead of the match, pick the tactics and pick the players who will play in the match. From there, it is left to the players to get their point across on the pitch and if they are not doing that, they need to face their share of the responsibility, which over the last three years is not something I could see happening.
Mourinho has four players who are doubts for the Leicester clash; Phil Jones (shock horror), Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Luke Shaw. Claudio Ranieri has three players on the sidelines through injury; Kasper Schmeichel, Matty James, and Nampalys Mendy with Marcin Wasilewski suspended for the visit to Old Trafford. I am sure United, providing the right players start the match and the winning mentality is still there, will prevail and take all three points on offer, earning a better position in the league, results permitting and gaining ground on leaders Manchester City, who are away to Swansea City. Arsenal face Chelsea on Saturday evening, which could see United gain some ground. If Spurs and Everton drop points this weekend, they face Middlesbrough and Bournemouth respectively, both away from home, United, providing they beat Leicester, could be chasing their local and title rivals, with a lot of work still to be put in during the remaining 32 matches of the season.
Manchester United Form:- WLLLW
Northampton Town 3-1 W, Watford 3-1 L, Feyenoord 1-0 L, Manchester City 2-1 L, Hull City 1-0 W
Leicester City Form:- LWWLW
Chelsea 4-2 L, Burnley 3-0 W, Club Brugge 3-0 W, Liverpool 4-1 L, Swansea City 2-1 W
Manchester United Top Scorers:
5 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney
Leicester City Top Scorers:
3 – Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, 2 – Shinji Okazaki, Islam Slimani, 1 – Marc Albrighton, Wes Morgan
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (contusion), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh muscle strain), Luke Shaw (groin strain)
Leicester City Squad:
Manager: Claudio Ranieri
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Ben Hamer, Ron-Robert Zieler
Defenders: Luis Hernández, Ben Chilwell, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, Marcin Wasilewski, Christian Fuchs, Yohan Benalouane
Midfielders: Danny Drinkwater, Matty James, Andy King, Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Bartosz Kapustka, Jeff Schlupp, Demarai Gray, Nampalys Mendy, Riyad Mahrez
Forwards: Ahmed Musa, Jamie Vardy, Islam Slimani, Shinji Okazaki, Leonardo Ulloa
Injuries and Suspensions: Marcin Wasilewski (one match suspension), Kasper Schmeichel (concussion), Matty James (ankle), Nampalys Mendy (ankle)
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City