Manchester United will face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in the final Premier League match of the season on Sunday afternoon. After their 1-1 draw with West Ham United on Wednesday and Chelsea’s 5-3 defeat to Liverpool, if saw United going into third place in the league, therefore in with a chance of achieving UEFA Champions League football next season, providing they at least draw with Leicester.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking a victory in the final match of the season, which should keep United in third even if Chelsea beat Wolverhampton Wanderers. Brendan Rodger’s side could be the side to lose out this season, staying in the top four for a long period time but falling out of those places when it matters because of poor form. Not all that long ago Leicester had a big lead over United.
How United have faired against Leicester City in the Premier League.
United and Leicester have played 27 times in the Premier League with United winning 18, drawing seven and losing twice. United have scored 58 goals conceding 22. United have kept 13 clean sheets with the Foxes keeping two. United have won three penalties, scoring two with the Foxes winning two and scoring both. Both teams have been shown 32 yellow cards with United getting one red card and Leicester getting two.
The two sides last met on the 14 September 2019 at Old Trafford and United won 1-0 with Marcus Rashford scoring an eighth minute penalty to take all three points for United. In this fixture last season, United won 1-0 with Rashford again scoring the only goal of the game in the ninth minute. United have not lost to Leicester since the 21 September 2014, a 5-3 defeat at the King Power Stadium.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper will have seen the faith repaid to him after Solskjaer did not bench him after that embarrassing defeat to Chelsea at Wembley last Sunday. His performance against West Ham United was better but other than the penalty, they did not really threaten United. In this match, De Gea will need to be a lot better. Any more mistakes could be costly for him and United, especially if they miss out on UEFA Champions League football because of it. A clean sheet against Leicester would be good but more importantly a win should be on the table. De Gea owes it to United to put his best performance of the season on show at the King Power Stadium.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
United have defensive problems at this stage of the season. Only two fit and experienced players remain for the centre of the defence, unless Eric Bailly is deemed fit to face Leicester, even on the bench. United have the option of playing Tim Fosu-Mensah in the centre, if needed but it would not be the best of options for Solskjaer. It is clear that this summer, another central defender needs to be purchased to help keep the defence progressive and strong, even in rotation. I think Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, facing his former team will all start and I have my fingers crossed that Luke Shaw will be fit to start, or even play a part in this important match.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba
The midfield is better than it has been this season but Paul Pogba seems to have lost the momentum he had after he returned from injury, which is something that you would expect after such a long spell out of the game. I think he can make his presence count though with United going back to basics in the midfield and pressing Leicester from the start of there match, getting an important goal on the scoresheet, which could end up putting United in that zone again. Nemanja Matic and Pogba will start in a two-man midfield. There are many rotation options but if you rotate you lose quality. That is something that can be done later in the match, if United have that option.
Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood
There are 48 goals and 23 assists with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood in the three behind the striker. That is 71 goal contributions from three players, which is a wonderful thing to see after the past seven years seeing United not adding much creativity to their game. The trio will start in this match but will be broken up when the job has been done. I would like to see goals galore in this game with United signing off the Premier League season in style but based on the football we have seen lately, I think the atmosphere could be something you cut with a knife. These players should be fired up to earn Champions League football next season, playing against the best teams in Europe.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has 22 goals and 10 assists this season which is a great achievement for the forward. In the past ten matches since the restart, Martial has scored six goals and five assists – 11 goal contributions, or one per match if you look at it that way. This is a great period for the Frenchman who will be in contention for the clubs Player of the Year award, if there is one because of the coronavirus pandemic this year. Martial will be seeking to find his form again in this match, looking to carry United into the Champions League then play for victories in the Europa League, to see if United can end the season in style.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Tim Fosu-Mensah, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Fred, Daniel James, Scott McTominay; Odion Ighalo
Solskjaer will have five substitutions to use for the remainder of the season, even in the Europa League. There are three options within matches to make the changes, plus the half time break. In the last match, Solskjaer did not use all five substitutions – he might need to in this game, especially if United get some early goals and need fresh legs to drive the club to victory. Sergio Romero will probably stay on the bench and used on the Europa League. Tim Fosu-Mensah and Brandon Williams might be the only defenders on the bench, unless Eric Bailly is passed fit. In midfield, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Fred, Daniel James and Scott McTominay could be called upon with Odion Ighalo the only attacking player on the bench.
Written by John Walker