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Preview: Solskjaer’s quest for a trophy could take a hit against Leicester unless United’s fortunes start to change

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Leicester City -v- Manchester United

Emirates FA Cup

King Power Stadium, Leicester

Sunday 21 March 2021, KO 17:00 GMT

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Simon Bennett, Harry Lennard

Fourth Official: Darren England

VAR: Stuart Attwell Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

Manchester United: WWDWDD

AC Milan 1-0 W, West Ham United 1-0 W, AC Milan 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Chelsea 0-0 D

Leicester City: WWDLLW

Sheffield United 5-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 W, Burnley 1-1 D, Arsenal 3-1 L, Slavia Praha 2-0 L, Aston Villa 2-1 W

Top Scorers: United have scored 89 goals so far this season in all competitions with Leicester scoring 71. Are Uninted’s big guns going to be scoring at the King Power Stadium again this season?

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, Paul Pogba, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Own Goal, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United are undefeated in their last 14 matches in all competitions; the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United was their last loss 15 matches ago. In their last six matches, United have won three and drawn three, scoring five goals and conceding once, keeping five clean sheets, which shows defensive consistency – something that Solskjaer and his side should be proud of. United earned a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, beating AC Milan 1-0, 2-1 on aggregate setting up a tie with Granada, which is a good draw for United, although they tend to struggle against the teams they should be beating easily. Solskjaer will be seeking a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, beating Leicester at the King Power for the second time this season.

Leicester City Goals: 14 – Jamie Vardy, 13 – Harvey Barnes, 11 – James Maddison, 10 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 7 – Youri Tielemans, 3 – James Justin, Ayoze Pérez, 2 – Dennis Praet, Cengiz Ünder, 1 – Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Timothy Castagne, Hamza Choudhury, Wilfred Ndidi, Luke Thomas

Leicester are not in the best form at this stage of the season, despite challenge United for a second-placed Finnish in the Premier League. In their last six matches, they have won three, draw one and lost twice – scoring 11 goals, conceding eight and keeping one clean sheet, which shows that United, if in form up front, could get at least two goals like they did in their last two visits to the King Power Stadium. Rodgers will be seeking a victory though, earning a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, aiming to win their first trophy since the 2015/16 season when they won the league and lifting the FA Cup for the first time since 1968/69 season. It has been a long time since Leicester won this trophy so they will be the team to beat this weekend.

Team News: Jones and Mata out for United with Morgan, Justin and Barnes missing for Leicester. Both teams are sweating on the fitness of players ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Phil Jones (knee) and Juan Mata (other) have already been ruled out for United, so they will not take part in the FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City. Marcus Rashford (other) has a 75% chance of featuring for United this weekend with Eric Bailly (knock), Anthony Martial (hip) and Edinson Cavani (other) all having a 50% chance of being available. Solskjaer has not suggested that either Martial or Cavani will be out of action this weekend, but has given the indication that they might be. Paul Pogba returned from injury against AC Milan on Thursday, scoring the only goal of the game to put United into the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League. Solskjaer does not think he could start but has left me wondering whether he will.

Wes Morgan (lower back), James Justin (knee) and Harvey Barnes (knee) have all been ruled out for Leicester, so will play no part in the FA Cup quarter final against United. Sidnei Tavares (illness) and Dennis Praet (thigh) seem to have recovered from their ailments, so will be available. However, Ricardo Pereira is a doubt, having a 75% chance of featuring whilst Cengiz Under (thigh) and James Maddison (groin/hip) both have a 25% chance of featuring. It gives Brendan Rodgers’ side some injury problems ahead of the visit of United in what will be seen as an important match for both clubs, who will be seeking to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup this season, vying for a place in the final.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer could have his card hidden up his sleeve this weekend with injured players still having a chance to return to fitness after midweek break.

Solskjaer could play a masterstroke this weekend in the final match before a two-week international break. Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial did not travel to Milan for Thursday’s victory with the Uruguayan pulling up after the second training session on Wednesday and therefore ruled out of the match. There is hope that he could be fit, but just in case, I have set up a team without him and Martial in the starting XI. With Marcus Rashford’s injury problems continuing, he could be a doubt too, leaguing United light in terms of attacking players, unless all three are able to feature. If those that have been called up for international durst could not feature for their countries, two weeks out of action would not be the end of the world, would it. United > Internationals.

Match Prediction: United and Leicester have met twice in the Emirates FA Cup with United winning twice, scoring five goals and conceding two. Can United make it three FA Cup victories in a row against Leicester?

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Leicester City 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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