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Preview: Leicester City -v- Manchester United – Premier League – United to tame the Foxes?

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Leicester City -v- Manchester United

Premier League

King Power Stadium, Leicester

Saturday 26 December 2020, KO 12:30 GMT

Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Ian Hussin, Dan Robathan

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Graham Scott Assistant VAR: Neil Davies

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Boxing Day, once again on the road as they travel to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Last season, United won this fixture 2-0 with a Bruno Fernandes penalty and a late Jesse Lingard goal to confirm United’s third-place finish in the league and therefore a place in the UEFA Champions League, which they have now exited. United have started to turn their season around with a 6-2 victory over Leeds United in the league last weekend, followed by a 2-0 victory over Everton in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup, setting up a semi-final against Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking for another victory on the road this season as he looks to keep chase on Premier League leaders, Liverpool with Leicester in second-place with 27 points after 14 matches so far. United will have a game in hand over Leicester, playing just 13 times in the league this season but having just one point fewer in third place in the league at this stage of the season. Solskjaer will have confidence inn getting the upper hand over Brendan Rodgers, especially after the clubs current form and the fact United are unbeaten in their last 12 matches against the Foxes, winning nine and drawing three times.

Manchester United: WWWDLW

Everton 2-0 W, Leeds United 6-2 W, Sheffield United 3-2 W, Manchester City 0-0 D, RB Leipzig 3-2 L, West Ham United 3-1 W

Leicester City: WLWWWL

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 W, Everton 2-0 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W, AEK Athens 2-0 W, Sheffield United 2-1 W, Zorya Luhansk 1-0 L

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes (13) and Marcus Rashford (12) lead in the goalscorer charts for United with Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial (four) now getting involved. Jamie Vardy has scored 13 goals for Leicester with Harvey Barnes scoring six and James Maddison scoring five.

Manchester United Goals: 13 – Bruno Fernandes, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 4 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, 3 – Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, 2 – Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Over the past few weeks United have been through the mill. The exit from the Champions League seems to have brought out the best of them, which might be a bit late but it is also early enough to try and change their fortunes this season. There should be a lot of positivity this month, despite two Champions League defeats as in the league, United have turned their fortunes around, also reaching the semi-final of the Carabao Cup this season. 17 goals have been scored in December, conceding 11 and keeping two clean sheets so far with two matches still to play 2020 turns into 2021.

Leicester City Goals: 13 – Jamie Vardy, 6 – Harvey Barnes, 5 – James Maddison, 3 – Kelechi Iheanacho, Youri Tielemans, 2 – Dennis Praet, 1 – Timothy Castagne, Hamza Choudhury, James Justin, Ayoze Pérez, Luke Thomas, Cengiz Ünder

Leicester have largely had a positive season. They sit second in the Premier League, a point ahead of United, playing one match more than United, sitting four points behind Liverpool. The club has also reached the round of 16 stage of the Europa League this season and will meet Slavia Praha in February when the competition resumes after a winter break. Leicester have played six matches so far this month, with two more to play. They have scored nine goals conceding four and kept three clean sheets. Brendan Rodgers will be seeking to get a result against United and they could be a threat to United’s upturn in form.

Team News: Up to three players on the sidelines for United whereas Leicester could be without two players. Both teams will be seeking a victory in order to keep chase on Premier League leaders, Liverpool.

Phil Jones (knee) will be out of action until next year, not that he was named in the Premier League squad anyway, so would not be eligible even if he was fit. Marcos Rojo (calf) will be out until mid-January with his injury, but United have plenty of defenders and left-back cover at this time, so do not need to worry. Scott McTominay came off late against Leeds and missed the Carabao Cup victory over Everton. He currently has a 25% chance of featuring for United against Leicester, so perhaps we might not see him until the clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday or Aston Villa on New Year’s Day.

Ricardo Barbosa Pereira (groin/hip/pelvis) has already been ruled out of the visit of United to the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day. Jamie Vardy was named as a doubt a few days ago but it would see that he never way and will be fit to face United with Leicester bidding to chase Liverpool being the current second-placed team in the league this season, with United in third place. Çağlar Söyüncü will be subject to a fitness test and is currently in with a 50/50 chance of facing United. If he misses the match against United, he should be fine for trip to Crystal Palace on Monday. Other than that, Brendan Rodgers has a fully fit squad.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against Leicester City on Boxing Day?

Solskjaer managed to rest some of his key players in the 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Everton on Wednesday evening which saw United to progress into the semi-finals of the domestic cup competition, facing Manchester City at Old Trafford. Both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial came off the bench to inspire the victory but the manager was able to rest David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Fred, and Daniel James. It is likely that Scott McTominay will be missing due to injury for this match, but United should have a squad capable of getting the much-needed result against Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Match Prediction: 28 matches played with United winning 19, drawing seven and losing just twice in the Premier League.

United and Leicester have met 28 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawing seven times and losing just twice. United have scored 60 goals against Leicester, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 22 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. United have kept 14 clean sheets with Leicester keeping two. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 37 yellow cards with one red card whereas Leicester have been shown 33 yellow cards and three red cards. United will be looking to win their 20th match in the Premier League against Leicester.

Last season at the King Power Stadium, which was played on the 26 July 2020 (the final day of the season) United won 2-0 with a 71st minute penalty by Bruno Fernandes and a Jesse Lingard goal eight minutes into added time. The victory saw United confirm their third place position in the Premier League and therefore a place in the UEFA Champions League. At Old Trafford last season, which was played 14 September 2019, United won the match 1-0 with Marcus Rashford scoring from the penalty spot in the eight minute of the match. United were beaten 5-3 by Leicester on the 21 September 2014, a devastating result for the club.

Leicester City 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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