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.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper is once again linked to signing a new contract at United, also with Juventus in the media linked to signing the player as a free agent, which could well be something that affects his form with mistakes being made this season already. In order to solve this, the player needs to decide whether he wants to stay or move on.
From there, things can work themselves out. More mistakes and the more of a liability De Gea will become. Sergio Romero will be waiting in the wings. De Gea has been great for United but over the past six years, the club has stagnated. It could all change if Solskjaer is given the time to create something, which has started to show, which could see the player remain at the club and fight to win league titles and more in the future.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
United’s defence has had some investment this summer and there is no doubting that after time, it will work out for United. However, the defence has conceded some poor goals already this season and they have not yet taken on the might of Manchester City and Liverpool. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has a 75% chance of playing this weekend and it is suggested that Luke Shaw is ready to return.
Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will keep their places with rotation expected this month with the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup commencing for United. These extra matches, with United playing twice each week, could see Axel Tuanzebe and even Brandon Williams both given chances in the first team, which would be great to see.
Midfield Three: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Angel Gomes
The midfield has not been at its best when playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Switching to the 4-3-3 formation might give some extra help in this area rather than putting more players in advanced roles. There has been a lack of creativity also. Paul Pogba has not been in form and does not seem happy. He may need to deal with his unhappiness himself though.
If fit, he has a 75% chance of playing, he should play on the left of midfield and Angel Gomes on the right and Scott McTominay playing in the centre, also becoming the defensive-minded midfielder. Between Gomes and Pogba, creativity should be flowing. If, however, Pogba does not perform, he should not play until he’s going to give his all for this club.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Daniel James
There is plenty of pace in United attack this season. However, there is not a lot of experience either. Marcus Rashford has gone off the boil once again and he needs to find his form. Benching him will also give him a rest ahead of the rest of the money. Anthony Martial, if fit, should lead the line with Daniel James on the left and Mason Greenwood on the right. This could be a devastating forward line if given the chance.
However, I fully expect James to be switched to the right with Rashford starting on the left, which in my opinion, is a waste of James’ ability, who is much better on the left. It’s the position he has scored from, even for Wales this week. United don’t have a right-winger, which is why Greenwood could play here as he likes to cut into the centre of the pitch and has the pace to succeed in this role.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe; Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic; Marcus Rashford
The bench is important for United as there could be players here that could win the game or come on to defend the lead, which could be the difference between United winning all three points, taking one, or even none. Having a mixture of youth an experience would be good here. I would like to see Brandon Williams and James Garner involved, which could happen this month.
For now, though, the usual suspects could be on the bench. Solskjaer will need to find the balance in his team and the players to come off the bench and perform when they are needed. He does make some changes too late in the game for my liking though. In order to give players enough time to get stuck in, substitutions may need to come much earlier in the game.