Manchester United welcome Leicester City to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon in their fifth Premier League match of the season. After a great start at home resulting in Chelsea being beaten 4-0, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has been poor since, drawing with Wolverhampton Wanderers, losing to Crystal Palace and drawing with Southampton.
Brendan Rodgers’ team will be looking for their first victory over United at Old Trafford in more than 21 years with their last victory at the Theatre of Dreams in January 1998. Leicester have had a good start to the season, currently sitting in third place in the league, with United sitting in eighth after three poor results.
September sees United’s number of matches increase with the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup set to start with United facing FC Astana (19/9) and Rochdale (25/9) respectively this month. In order to get back to winning ways, turning the season around, Solskjaer will need to find the answers to the problem he faces; getting the best out of his team.
United has played Leicester 128 times with United winning 66 matches, drawing 29 and losing 33 times. Leicester last defeated United on the 21 September 2014 in the Premier League, winning 5-3 at the King Power Stadium. In the last 10 meetings, United are undefeated, winning seven times, drawing three times. This time though it could be a tough match.
Key Players: Both United and Leicester have many key players to get the job done. However, Leicester have the advantage here based on the fact they are ahead of the game in terms of player development.
Manchester United: David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba, Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Daniel James, Anthony Martial
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Jonny Evans, Ben Chilwell, Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury, Demarai Gray, Jamie Vardy
Key Battles: Harry Maguire v Jamie Vardy, Angel Gomes v Wilfred Ndidi, and Daniel James v Jonny Evans.
Key Battle One: Harry Maguire v Jamie Vardy
The £80 million former Leicester City defender will have a good insight on his opposition ahead of the clash at Old Trafford on Saturday. Maguire has had some clumsy moments for United, another for England during the international break but he will be seeking a return to the best of his abilities ahead of this game. He will have to deal with a tricky striker that goes by the name of Jamie Vardy.
Vardy has scored 110 goals in 274 appearances for Leicester since the 2012/13 season, averaging two goals in five matches, which is a good return for a striker. This season, Vardy has scored three goals in four appearances in the Premier League, showing that he is in the kind of form to grab a goal against United. Maguire will need to get the better of his former teammate.
Key Battle Two: Angel Gomes v Wilfred Ndidi
Angel Gomes has not yet played a minute of competitive football this season, nor has he been included in the match day squad for any of the four matches played so far this season. With the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup commencing this month, that will need to change if he is to get some development in at the club. He is a quick and creative midfielder, who plays in an advanced role.
One Leicester player that could stand in his way is Wilfred Ndidi, the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League based on his statistics last season. Gomes would need to be on top of his game if he was to win this battle but it would be a good experience for him also. He does need to play in order to develop. The few minutes he has played for the first team, at least competitively, it not enough for him to develop his game.
Key Battle Three: Daniel James v Jonny Evans
Daniel James is close to matching a record set by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 23 years ago – scoring a goal in each of his three appearances at Old Trafford. The Welshman has scored twice, one against Chelsea, the other against Crystal Palace in both matches played at the Theatre of Dreams. To score again this weekend would make Solskjaer proud and the Old Trafford faithful will roar his name once again showing how good his signing was.
Former United defender Jonny Evans could perhaps stand in his way of the limelight. In each of his goals scored, including the one for Wales during the international break, James cut in from his position, most of the time from the left. Avoiding the right-back, Evans would be the man to stop him from scoring. The Welshman could match that record after all. For £15 million, potentially rising to £18 million, he’s a bargain.