Preview: Leicester stand in United’s way – beating them is important to build something this season

Stand up and be counted or sit back down and be a marked man in the summer...

Manchester United -v- Leicester City

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 2 April 2022, KO 17:30 GMT

Referee: Andre MarrinerAssistants: Darren Cann, Ian Hussin

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Michael Oliver – Assistant VAR: Simon Long

Manchester United return to Premier League action against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday – almost three weeks after the club exited from the UEFA Champions League after a 2-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid.

Ralf Rangnick’s team will need to win their remaining matches in the league this season in order to have a good chance of finishing in the top four, earning Champions League football next season. United have fallen to sixth in the league ahead of this match.

Tottenham Hotspur sit in fifth, a point ahead of United after 29 matches have been played by both. Arsenal sit in fourth, four points ahead of United still with a match in hand (playing 28 matches so far). It will be a tough task for United to reach fourth this season.

That said, Arsenal will face Spurs, Chelsea, United and West Ham during the run in this season, also facing Everton and Leeds United, who are in a relegation battle. Spurs will face Arsenal and Liverpool in their run in with United facing Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in their run in.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWLDDW

Atletico Madrid 1-0 L, Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 W, Manchester City 4-1 L, Watford 0-0 D, Atletico Madrid 1-1 D, Leeds United 4-2 W

Goals: 18 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 6 – Mason Greenwood, 5 – Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, 3 – Anthony Elanga, Fred, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, 1 – Own Goal, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 14 – Bruno Fernandes, 9 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Fred, Luke Shaw, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Raphael Varane

Leicester City – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WLLWWW

Brentford 2-1 W, Stade Rennais 2-1 L, Arsenal 2-0 L, Stade Rennais 2-0 W, Leeds United 1-0 W, Burnley 2-0 W

Goals: 13 – James Maddison, 12 – Jamie Vardy, 10 – Patson Daka, 8 – Harvey Barnes, 7 – Youri Tielemans, 6 – Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman, 3 – Marc Albrighton, 2 – Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Jonny Evans, Wilfred Ndidi, 1 – Daniel Amartey, Timothy Castagne, Wesley Fofana, Ricardo Pereira, Ayoze Pérez, Çaglar Söyüncü

Assists: 9 – Harvey Barnes, Kelechi Iheanacho, 7 – James Maddison, 6 – Ademola Lookman, 4 – Patson Daka, 3 – Ayoze Pérez, Youri Tielemans, 2 – Marc Albrighton, Ricardo Pereira, Jamie Vardy, 1 – Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Jonny Evans, Wilfred Ndidi, Boubakary Soumaré, Luke Thomas

Previous meetings with Leicester and their connections with United.

United and Leicester have met 31 times in the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawn eight times with the Foxes winning four times. United have scored 65 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 30 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both.

United have kept 14 clean sheets with the Foxes keeping just two. Discipline has been an issue with United players receiving 41 yellow cards and one red card and Leicester players being shown 35 yellow cards and three red cards. United must win this match.

John Curtis, Mark Robins, Danny Drinkwater, Matty James, Ron-Robert Zieler, 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 have played for both clubs.

Harry Maguire is the most recent transfer between the two clubs with the England defender signing for United in an £80 million deal during the summer of 2019. The United captain is subject to a lot of criticism at this time and was booed whist playing for England in the past week.

Team News: Cavani out for United? Ndidi, Bertrand, Ward and Vardy all ruled out for Leicester. United need to get the better of their opposition in this match or their season is done for.

Manchester United: Edinson Cavani (Calf) could be a major doubt for the clash with Leicester. The Uruguayan suffered a calf injury during the international break, which has been the story of his season. He is the only player expected to be a doubt for United this weekend, at this time anyway.

Leicester City: Wilfred Ndidi (Knee), Ryan Bertrand (Knee), Danny Ward (Knee) and Jamie Vardy (Knee) have been ruled out of Saturday’s match. Luke Thomas (Thigh) has a 25% chance of featuring whilst Marc Albrighton, Wesley Fofana and Harvey Barnes should all be fit.

Predicted Starting XI: De Gea in goal? Dalot, Varane, Maguire and Shaw in defence? McTominay, Pogba and Fernandes in midfield? Elanga, Ronaldo and Sancho in attack?

Rangnick will need to select a team capable of beating Leicester this weekend. In their last match against the Foxes, United lost 4-2, which was a devastating defeat for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Getting the better of this club is what needs to happen this weekend.

United are almost out of chances to reach the top four this season. Both Spurs and Arsenal have better chances of finishing in that area at this stage, but their run ins for the season are both seemingly difficult. United don’t have an easy run either but the players need to perform well.

David De Gea should keep his place in goal, although Dean Henderson will be seeking game time during the remainder of the season. Diogo Dalot, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw to complete the defence against Leicester.

Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes should be picked in midfield for United, although Pogba will need to perform to a high standard. Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga should flank Cristiano Ronaldo as the attacking players.

Match Prediction: Leicester beat United 4-2 earlier in the season and United failed to beat them last season – this match is a must win for United to keep their top four chances open.

Last season, United drew 2-2 with Leicester at the King Power Stadium. Marcus Rashford opened the scoring then Harvey Barnes equalised. Bruno Fernandes restored United’s lead before Axel Tuanzebe scored an own goal in the 85th minute.

At Old Trafford, it was a 2-1 victory for Leicester. Luke Thomas opened the scoring and Mason Greenwood equalised. Çaglar Söyüncü scored the winner in the match but was not enough for Leicester to break back into the top four that season, eventually finishing fifth.

Earlier this season, at the King Power Stadium, Leicester beat United 4-2 in the league. Greenwood opened the scoring but Youri Tielemans and Söyüncü put Leicester ahead. Rashford equalised but Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka sank United.

This match will see United needing to get a win to keep their chances of a top four finish open, despite it being a touch achievement for United. Failure to secure Champions League football next season could be a major problem for the club – a problem it deserves though.

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.