Manchester United return to Premier League action, travelling to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in a traditional 3pm kick off on Saturday afternoon. It has been a positive international break for some United players with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick in his last match, extending his international goals record for Portugal. United need to get back to winning ways in the league this weekend, righting the wrongs from the lacklustre 1-1 draw with Everton a fortnight ago. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to start finding the best of his talented team, which is why he’s got so many critics at this time.
United head into a busy period where they will face Leicester (A), Atalanta (H), Liverpool (H) and Tottenham Hotspur (A) before the end of the month, with Atalanta (A), Manchester City (H), Watford (A), Villarreal (A), Chelsea (A) and Arsenal (H) all coming before the end of November. Solskjaer will need to get the right results otherwise the pressure will intensify and the muppets on social media, who thing they are qualified to make adult decisions, will be calling for his head some more. These so-called supporters seem to proclaim that they have all the answers without actually giving any answers other than Ole out, which is pathetic.
Previous meetings with Leicester City and their connections with Manchester United.
United and Leicester have met 30 times in the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawn eight times with the Foxes winning the remaining three matches. United have scored a total of 63 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. The Foxes have scored just 26 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. The Red Devils have kept 14 clean sheets with the Foxes keeping just two. Discipline has been an issue in this fixture with United players receiving 38 yellow cards and one red card and Leicester players being shown 35 yellow cards and three red cards. This should be a fiery match.
Over the years, there has been many players who have donned the shirts of both United and Leicester, whether just at academy level, or for the first team also. The likes of John Curtis, Mark Robins, Danny Drinkwater, Matty James, Ron-Robert Zieler, Brian Carey, Colin Gibson, John Doherty, Robbie Savage, Keith Gillespie, Ritchie De Laet, Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans, Tom Lawrence, Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard, Nick Powell, Danny Simpson, Harry Maguire have all played for both teams. Maguire is perhaps the most expensive player to be involved in a transfer with his £80 million fee paid in the summer of 2019. There were some talented played named here.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
United will need to be strong in defence against Leicester as they have the players that could bully the defence and score goals with Jamie Vardy already scoring six times this season and Kelechi Iheanacho scoring three times. However, United’s attack will devastate Leicester if they are not in a position to control the game. Having David De Gea in goal is the best option for United at this time, as he has largely done well in all of the matches he has played so far this season. It is possible that he could be rested in the Champions League on Wednesday evening with Dean Henderson getting a rare start after his fatigue problems after catching coronavirus.
De Gea has turned back the clock on his ability, showing the best of himself in many matches so far this season, and that will need to continue if United are to stand up and be counted as a Premier League title challenger this season. The club finished second last season, and at a point were in the top spot, but Manchester City’s resurgence, mainly their expensive squad of mercenaries led them to the title. United will need to show that kind of determination if they are to achieve anything to be considered success this season – which is evidently possible as they are just two points from the Premier League summit at this time.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw
The defence is going to be much weaker than it can be for the foreseeable future. Harry Maguire has not fully recovered from his calf injury and Raphael Varane suffered a groin injury during the international break, which saw France crowned as the UEFA Nations League winners, beating Spain in the final. Against Leicester, Solskjaer will need to stick with both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw in the fullback positions and test a new partnership in the centre of defence, probably with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly. The duo have played together many times, but both can be liabilities at times, and this could be one of those times.
Solskjaer has both Phil Jones, who has started his comeback from a serious knee injury and Teden Mengi who could also come into contention to start against the Foxes, but I believe that the Norwegian manager will opt for experience and not rush youth or a player coming back from injury. Jones has played 180 minutes for the U23’s since making his return from injury, so has some minutes under his belt, so you never know, he could be opted ahead of either Lindelof or Bailly. I think this duo is the most likely though and hopefully United will have better luck with Maguire ahead of the Atalanta Champions League match next week?
Midfield: Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek
The midfield will be the problem area of the squad until some kind of strengthening can be done. It has been said during the international break that dropping Fred would be a good thing to happen and it would just so happen that he will not be available, along with Edinson Cavani as they could be playing on Friday evening in South America as Brazil take on Uruguay. With Nemanja Matic the only experience defensive minded midfielder, giving Scott McTominay that role could be beneficial in speeding up play, as long as Fred is not playing with him in a midfield two. Changing this formation and tactical approach could see United play much quicker.
Against Leicester, who have not had a good start to the season, United will need to be sure of their ability and push to win this match as another stuttered performance will not be good as the so-called supporters on Twitter will cause an uproar, if you even take notice of them in the first place. Staring Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek in this formation would be a good test to the strength of the team, possibly bringing Paul Pogba into the fray at some point in the game, to see how that works too. Providing it does, United could solve a problem, albeit temporarily a they look to make more permanent changes in the transfer market or beyond.
Forwards: Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford
Solskjaer needs to change up his squad and feed them different tactics as the lacklustre style of play, keeping in mind the attacking players United have, is not good enough this season. United should be playing a quickly style of football and dominating with constant attacking, which should be enough for much of their opposition, at least in the Premier League this season. I think that Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the line as the striker, which is his best position these days, but he could operate in any of the three positions seeking to find space for other players. Fresh from scoring a hat-trick for Portugal, he will be up for scoring more Premier League goals.
I think Marcus Rashford will make his return from injury, which is at the right time but he will be a bit rusty, which means it will be better to get him started sooner rather than later. He has been in first team training for a number of weeks now, so he should have enough fitness, even if he has only played in one behind closed doors training match. Jadon Sancho should start on the right-wing, the position he was bought to play in. After his two assists for England during the international break, despite the criticism, I think he will start making his mark in the Premier League, which will come weeks after some kids said he was rubbish live on MUTV.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Phil Jones, Alex Telles; Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic; Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Elanga
United can name nine substitutes on the bench in the Premier League this season, utilising three of those. With the current injuries and unavailable players, Solskjaer will have to think about the players he has available and whether to trust youth or bring Phil Jones back into the fold. Dean Henderson will be the substitute goalkeeper with De Gea keeping his place in the team. In defence, I think having Jones over Teden Mengi would be better based on experience as United will need to win this match. I don’t have much confidence in Lindelof and Bailly, but they have worked well together in the past and need to be determined to try and win back their places.
In midfield, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic could all be called upon if needed. I think Van de Beek will start ahead of Pogba as he will want to show what he can do, which could also get him into the shop window ahead of January, with reports of him wanting to leave the Old Trafford club just over a year after he arrived. In attack, Anthony Martial, who scored his first goal of the season against Everton a fortnight ago, Mason Greenwood, who has been in fine form so far this season and Anthony Elanga, who could be seeking to fight for a place in United’s attack this season should all be available for the Leicester match.
Written by John Walker