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Confirmed XI: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer names strong team to face Leicester; Martial and Rashford back – change of shape?

Manchester United return to Premier League action this afternoon, 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:

De Gea;

Lindelof, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

James, Fernandes, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Henderson; Telles, Tuanzebe; Pogba, Lingard, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani, Greenwood

Leicester City:

Schmeichel;

Justin, Fofana, Evans, Castagne;

Ndidi, Tielemans;

Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes;

Vardy

Substitutes:

Ward; Amartey, Fuchs, Thomas; Choudhury, Mendy, Praet; Iheanacho, Perez

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.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and Greenwood to tame the Foxes? Pellistri to be given a place on the bench?

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.

How United have faired against Leicester 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.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day (Saturday) afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper has been involved in some good matches for United this season and seems to be settling in terms of form from where he was last season and at the start of this season. Clean sheets are a must if United are to better their goal difference, which could come into play at the end of the season. However, winning matches is just as important for United. At this stage, United are doing well, sitting third in the league ahead of this match all with a game in hand. They sit five points adrift of Liverpool, so there is time to catch them up and possible challenge for the league title – which has been a long time coming.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United defence is still very much a work in progress but there seems to be some development over the past few weeks. Only two clean sheets have been kept this month; the 0-0 draw with Manchester City and the 2-0 victory over Everton in the Carabao Cup. United should be looking to end the month and the year on a high with two possible clean sheets in their next couple of matches; Leicester City away and Wolverhampton Wanderers at home. Against Leicester, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelof should both return with Harry Maguire and Alex Telles keeping their places from the mid-week victory over Everton.

Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba

The midfield is an area that United still need to perfect this season. The is ample talent to succeed but it is not working as well as it could right now, but it will get better. With the expected absence of Scott McTominay, I think Fred will be recalled to the starting lineup to feature alongside Paul Pogba in a pivot. The two players can work together but United’s defence will need to be more alert, especially with the threat of Jamie Vardy, who has scored 13 goals this season. Fred and Pogba could thrive together, playing just behind Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, feeding the attack.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

This is the area that United are the most creative and most of that is because of one man – Bruno Fernandes. He started against Everton when I thought he would have been rested and it would seem that he will be needed once again on Boxing Day to face Leicester. Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford should also start on either flank in the 4-2-3-1 formation that Solskjaer seems to use the majority of the time. Between the trio this season, they are responsible for 28 goals and 15 assists, which is a good sign that with them on the pitch, United will still continue to score goals.

Forwards: Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial has scored four goals and four assists so far this season, which compared to last season, shows that he has more to achieve on the pitch for his club. United still have a lot of time ahead of them and Martial did have a three-match suspension in the Premier League earlier in the season, so there is time for him to play catch up with the likes of Fernandes and Rashford, who have 13 and 12 goals respectively.United needed Martial and Rashford on the pitch to get a result against Everton on Wednesday evening, so the Frenchman should be able to create something against Leicester to help United get another three points.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani

In the Premier League, United are now able to name nine players on the bench but still only use three of them. In the Carabao Cup they were only able to name seven, using three of them. This will be the same in the Emirates FA Cup. In the Europa League, 12 players can be named on the bench, five of them used throughout the match. Against Leicester, Dean Henderson will likely be back on the bench. In defence, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe could be called upon. In midfield, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri and Donny van de Beek should be available with Edinson Cavani the only forward on the bench.

Written by John Walker

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

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

Player Ratings: United beat Leicester 2-0; Lindelof MOTM, Fernandes not that far behind

Manchester United beat Leicester City 2-0 at the King Power Stadium in the final match of the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have finished third in the league this season, against all odds. Anthony Martial won the penalty in the 71st minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes scoring his tenth goal of the season, beating Kasper Schmeichel. Jesse Lingard scored a very late goal too, which was good for him. United will play UEFA Champions League football again next season.

United started well against Leicester but the home sides confidence started to rise as the game grew on. United had the ball in the back of the net through Bruno Fernandes but the Portuguese midfielders goal was chalked off for offside. It was a dangerous game that United were starting to play as Leicester were starting to get some chances on goal towards the end of the half. Fernandes had another chance, assisted by Mason Greenwood but he missed his opportunity to open the scoring.

United opened the scoring 71st minute of the match with Anthony Martial taken down inside the box with both Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans closing in to stop the forward. Evans, the former United defender was booked. United won a penalty which Bruno Fernandes slammed into the back of the net, beating a dancing Kasper Schmeichel to take the lead in this important match. With Chelsea winning 2-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers, this saw United move back to third in the league.

It was a nervy end to the match for United. It was not a good game for Jonny Evans either who was shown a red card for a challenge on Scott McTominay, who had replaced the goalscorer, Fernandes, in the late stages of the game. United, rightly, won a free kick for the challenge, which came to nothing got the Red Devils. Solskjaer brought on Jesse Lingard for Mason Greenwood earlier in the second half. Lingard scored a good goal to win the game for United. Tim Fosu-Mensah and Odion Ighalo replaced Marcus Rashford and Martial late in stoppage time.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one has been in poor form this season and needs to find the ability to raise his game considerably. When Leicester were on the attack, it just makes me worry that there are mistakes in him that should not be there that often. Is it decline or just a poor season for him? He did deal with a few shots well but that was it.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The right-back played well. Perhaps a little fatigued, along with his teammates but he had an important role in helping his team achieve their objective.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The iceman coped well under pressure with Vardy looking to break through on occasion. He could well be United's best player in this match because of that. He continued to play well throughout the match, which was great.

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5 Harry Maguire

The United captain was booked in the ninth minute against his former club. He seemed clumsy at times, which was not a good look for United. He might well have received a second yellow card in the second half, which would not have been good for United.

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33 Brandon Williams

The teenage left-back showed his eagerness against Leicester, not putting his head down, even after he has made mistakes. He's a determined player who will always fight for this team. That is a great sign.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The veteran Serbian midfielder will be happy of the break he is going to get before the Europa League starts again. He looks tired to say the least and has played a lot of football recently.

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6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman was not at his best again. A lot of football in a small period of time could affect that. He did not have much impact but played much better in the second half. Work in progress for this team, maybe?

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11 Mason Greenwood

The teenage sensation had some good involvement against Leicester, nearly scoring in the first and defending when needed, which was great to see. Greenwood played well at the King Power stadium and will be happy with how his season has progressed. He was replaced by Jesse Lingard in the 77th minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese magnifico had he ball in the net during the first half but it was ruled out by VAR. He had the chance to open the scoring at the end of the first half but missed. In the 71st minute, United won a penalty which the Portuguese midfielder placed into the back of the net. His form recently has not been the greatest but this goal matters a lot. He was replaced by McTominay in the 86th minute of the match.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The England forward seemed off the pace again for his third or fourth match running. Fatigue will be a problem but it is not an excuse. United need to be much better in attack to get something out of their matches. It could be the difference between a win or a defeat. He wasted United's best chance of the first half. He was replaced by Fosu-Mensah in the last minute of added time.

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman was the best attacking player against Leicester, having a few good chances to get involved in the goals. He won a penalty in the 71st minute after Morgan and Evans closed in and he was fouled. He was replaced in the last minute of added time by Ighalo.

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Substitutes

14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Greenwood 77'. The 27-year-old had little impact during the game but somehow scored in the dying seconds of the match, beating Schmeichel for the second time in the match. It was a good finish.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Fernandes 86'. Was fouled by Evans, which saw the former United defender given a straight red card, even after he was shown a yellow card earlier for the penalty. He fought on, like he does.

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24 Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Replaced Rashford 90+7'. No impact in the game. Was on the pitch for just over a minute.

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25 Odion Ighalo

Replaced Martial 90+7'. No impact. Spent about a minute on the pitch.

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Goals: Bruno Fernandes 71′ penalty

Assists:

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood (Lingard 77′), Fernandes (McTominay 86′), Rashford (Fosu-Mensah 90+7′); Martial (Ighalo 90+7′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly; Mata, Fred, James

Bookings: Jonny Evans 68′, 90+4′ s/o, Jamie Vardy 83′; Harry Maguire 9′, Victor Lindelof 63′, Nemanja Matic 84′, Paul Pogba 90+1′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Manchester United name strong team to face Leicester City; no Luke Shaw

Manchester United will face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in the final Premier League match of the season this 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.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams;

Pogba, Matic;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Bailly, Fosu-Mensah; Mata, Lingard, Fred, James, McTominay; Ighalo

Leicester City:

Schmeichel;

Justin, Morgan, Evans, Thomas;

Albrighton, Choudhury, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas;

Vardy, Iheanacho

Substitutes:

Gray, Ward, Barnes, Perez, James, Mendy, Praet, Bennett, Hirst

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.

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warns his Manchester United squad ahead of Leicester City clash

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his players ahead of the final Premier League match of the season. United will need to at least draw against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon with many seeking a victory to end the season in style. This match could be worth £100 million in revenue to the team that comes out on top. Leicester will be the underdogs with United rising up to third following their 1-1 draw with West Ham United.

United will need just a point to clinch a top four position this season, a win would keep them in third, even if Chelsea beat Wolverhampton Wanderers because of United’s impressive goal difference over Frank Lampard’s side. United remain unbeaten in the last 13 Premier League matches and have closed a 14-point gap on Leicester, which is something that many would not have expected considering United’s poor form during important stages of the season.

Solskjaer, seeking to get what he needs to impress is boss, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who set him a target of UEFA Champions League football next season, which the Norwegian is close to achieving on Sunday, although he will have a second shot in the UEFA Europa League next month, which is a great chance but not something that United should be relying on to get what they need. United effectively has the Champions League on the bag, they just need to check out.

Earlier this season, when United 13 matches to play, they trailed Leicester by 14 points and looked set to miss out on Champions League football next season, at least through their league position. However, after the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, United seem to have changed as a team with the Portuguese midfielder experiencing defeat once in 19 appearances with United losing once in 20 matches. Solskjaer, telling his team they have not achieved anything yet, was reported by The Mirror as saying:

“We’ve not ended up anywhere yet. We have one more game to show we’ve become a better team.

“If we get a result against Leicester, this journey has been a good one, but this is not the end of the journey.

“There are two teams [Liverpool and Manchester City] too far ahead of us, so we have to step it up even more.”

There will be a lot riding on this game. United could kickstart their summer transfer business on Monday once the transfer window opens and with Champions League football in the bag, they could start the ball rolling in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, who has been linked to the club for the last year. Solskjaer will be seeking the best from his team, which says a lot after their performances against West Ham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Southampton, which were not the best – probably with fatigue kicking in at the time. This is it for United though, the end of the season, at least domestically. Solskjaer concluded by saying:

“We’re looking forward to the game and we’ve given ourselves a good chance of the Champions League next year.

“But we can’t go in thinking about the outcome, we’ve just got to perform at a high enough level and get a result.

“We wanted to get into this position to go to Leicester. Now we want to go there, dominate the game and try to win the game.

“One lapse of concentration can hurt you, so we’re going to go into it in a strong frame of mind. We have one more game this season, this is a journey for this team and this is one extra step on the journey.

“We’ve come a long way mentally and shown more robustness and resilience, and I’m delighted with how the development looks.

“We’ve reacted well in some games, being 1-0 down in the last three at home and coming back to get results in all of them.

“We didn’t enjoy losing against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, but we got a result against West Ham and are now third – it’s fantastic to see we’re growing as a team.

“We’ve had some hard times this season, some setbacks, but we’ve shown this is a team going places and hopefully we can finish the season with a trophy in Europe and third place.”

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: Solskjaer to utilise full team to beat Leicester; Shaw back in contention?

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

Preview: A win or draw for United will secure Champions League; the Foxes to be tamed?

Leicester City -v- Manchester United

Premier League

King Power Stadium, Leicester

Sunday 26 July 2020, KO 16:00 BST

Referee: Martin Atkinson Assistants: Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis 

Fourth Official: Oliver Langford Replacement Official: Robert Merchant

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Peter Kirkup

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.

Form: Three defeats in the last six for Leicester just one defeat in the last six for United. This match will define UEFA Champions League from UEFA Europa League – probably.

Manchester United: DLWDWW

West Ham United 1-1 D, Chelsea 3-1 L, Crystal Palace 2-0 W, Southampton 2-2 D, Aston Villa 3-0 W, Bournemouth 5-2 W

Leicester City: LWLDWL

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 L, Sheffield United 2-0 W, Bournemouth 4-1 L, Arsenal 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 3-0 W, Everton 2-1 L

Top Scorers: Vardy is the Premier League top scorer with 23 goals with Rashford and Martial six behind on 17 goals in the league. *0 goals scored by Leicester this season with United scoring 106.

Manchester United Goals: 22 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 17 – Mason Greenwood, 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Odion Ighalo, Scott McTominay, 4 – Daniel James, 3 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United may not have flattered themselves in their last three or four matches but they have, most of the time, ground out positive results – apart from the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea which was their first defeat in 20 matches. United have it all to win this weekend, a win or a draw will secure UEFA Champions League football for them, which could ensure this summer is a good one for the club.

Leicester City Goals: 23 – Jamie Vardy, 10 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 9 – James Maddison, 8 – Ayoze Pérez, 7 – Harvey Barnes, 5 – Youri Tielemans, 4 – Ricardo Pereira, 3 – Ben Chilwell, Demarai Gray, 2 – Jonny Evans, Wilfred Ndidi, 1 – Hamza Choudhury, James Justin, Dennis Praet, Çaglar Söyüncü

Leicester have not really been in good form recently which is why they have slipped out of the top four of the Premier League at the most important stage of the season. Three defeats in their last six matches is a problem and Brendan Rodgers will be worried about this last match. United have it all to win with Leicester having it all to lose. United are unbeaten against Leicester in nearly six years, which is another problem.

Team News: United could be without four players with two subject to late fitness tests whilst Leicester will be missing six; five injured and one suspended.

Solskjaer could be without Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly for the visit of the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon. However, both Shaw and Bailly will be given time to play themselves into contention to face the Foxes with late fitness tests which could be a big help for United, who have two fit and experienced central defenders at this stage of the season. Solskjaer, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“We’re going to give them as much time as possible. I’m not going to rule anything out. You’d expect players to feel it towards the end of a season anyway.

“This season has been a strange one as everyone knows. We’ve had five weeks playing now and all teams have got issues whether it be mental or physical injury-wise.

“We’re in a very good position going into the last game even though I’m sure some of the players are feeling it but now is not the time to look for pains and aches. Now is the time to get 90 minutes in.”

Rodgers will have six players out of this match which will be a blow for the club, especially with the fact that they will need to beat United for the first time in nearly six years to secure their place in the Champions League. Ricardo Barbosa Pereira, Daniel Amartey, Christian Fuchs, Ben Chilwell, and James Maddison will all miss the match due to injury, unless for former Liverpool manager is bluffing. Çaglar Söyüncü is suspended.

Predicted Starting XI: United to weather their injury storm and field a strong XI to take on Leicester and earn Champions League football next season.

Solskjaer might want to make changes bu the fact that this is the final match of the season, well for 10 days before the UEFA Europa League recommences should be a good indication for United that they will get some rest, many for a bit longer with Solskjaer expected to name a much weakened side against LASK – considering they won 5-0 in the first leg. I think Luke Shaw will be back on Sunday, which would be a boost for United and Solskjaer giving United good stead to get a good result.

Match Prediction: United unbeaten against Leicester for nearly six years winning 18 of their 27 Premier League matches. This match is more important than keeping that record alive though.

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.

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

What We’ve Learned: De Gea back to his best, defence improving, the midfield has the ability, creativity lacking, goals are lacking

Manchester United beat Leicester City 1-0 at Old Trafford, returning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to winning ways after two draws and one defeat in the three matches before this one. Marcus Rashford was the key to winning this game and giving United three points, putting United into the top four of the Premier League, at least until Sunday afternoon.

United opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match with Marcus Rashford won a penalty after Caglar Soyuncu made a challenge against the England forward and the referee, Martin Atkinson gave the penalty. Rashford hit his effort low and to the right of Kasper Schmeichel, who went in the wrong direction, putting United in the lead at Old Trafford.

David De Gea made a great save to deny Leicester from an equaliser in the 30th minute of the match after Harry Maguire headed away a James Maddison corner which went straight to Ben Chilwell on the edge of the box, he then chested the ball down and volleyed towards goal for De Gea to tip the effort over the crossbar.

Daniel James was lively throughout the match, even having a shot on goal six minutes into the second half from 25-yards out, however, it was well off target not pressuring Schmeichel. Leicester then started to turn the pressure on which was not ideal thinking about the same happening against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Southampton.

David De Gea showing glimpses of the player we all knew the club had in there.

David De Gea has made some mistakes this season, especially during the time his contract talks were being aired in the media, whether it was speculation (lies) or the truth, at the same time, he was making mistakes. However, after the international break. De Gea seems to have found some form, performing a few good saves against Leicester City to deny them.

With rumours over the last few days suggesting that the player has now signed a new contract at the club, this could be why he’s found the form, seemingly settled that he will remain at the club for as long as they want him, digging deep to get United out of the rut they were in and back in the direction of a better season, which is a step in the right direction.

De Gea has kept two clean sheets at Old Trafford this season, out of the two matches played at the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League, which incidentally, is the same number of home clean sheets he had in the Premier League last season, with 19 matches being played. Onwards and upwards for United this season. The right direction is ahead now.

The defence has improved this season but there is still a long way to go before the fortress is back.

Despite injuries leaving positions at bare bones and the fact that Aaron Wan-Bissaka was not fully fit to face Leicester on Saturday, the defence is improving this season. If you look at the five matches played, United have kept clean sheets twice in matches they would have conceded goals in last season. Harry Maguire and Wan-Bissaka are two reasons for this.

Against Leicester, Maguire’s former club, the England defender won 100% of his tackles, won seven out of ten duels, won five out of six aerial duels, having an 83% pass completion. The calmness under pressure and the leadership of Maguire have really helped United move forward this season, which is great to see. More is needed, of course.

United really need to work on avoiding injuries. Having Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot out at the same time is problematic as there are no other fullbacks at the club other than Wan-Bissaka and Ashley Young, who have first team experience. Brandon Williams and Ethan Laird, if fit, could make the step up, but will be a gamble. A gamble which could pay off.

The midfield has the ability to shine with Scott McTominay getting stuck in and Fred showing signs of improvement against Leicester City.

Scott McTominay should hold his head up high after his performance against Leicester on Saturday afternoon. He has been the victim of a lot of abuse from the social media faction of the fan base, most of it unwarranted – all because he’s not a big name in the game. A player that they can rep on Twitter and get all the W’s.

McTominay was also praised by Solskjaer after his performance, talking about sticking up for his team and his teammates. The Norwegian said; “If teams are trying to intimidate us, he [McTominay] is there. He is a leader.” That says a lot about the player and just how hard he works, also the fact that he’s not scared to get involved if something is not right.

I was also impressed with Fred and the fact the midfield has more dimension when you can see how well he can adapt. Yes, it was his first appearance of the season but you can see he put the effort in. Winning the ball and playing it towards Andreas Pereira showed good vision. Perhaps, with Fred seemingly playing well, the formation could change?

Creativity is still an issue that needs to be resolved, as does the formation, which is not getting the best out of the players.

United still seem to lack the ability to create goals. Against Leicester, the only goal scored from form the penalty spot. Despite the likes of Daniel James and Harry Maguire having chances to score, there was little creativity in the team. Juan Mata is a good player but playing high pressing football is going to leave him chasing the game.

Solskjaer has Angel Gomes, who has been playing some good football at U23 level when he has played this season, also putting in some good performances during the pre-season tour of the summer, specifically, playing well against AC Milan in Cardiff, a game that United won in a penalty shootout. Gomes has not been tested in the first team this season.

United will face FC Astana in the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday and perhaps, with a trip to West Ham United on the horizon in the Premier League next Sunday, giving Gomes a shot against the Kazakhstani side would be a good thing for his development and for the club, seeing that a major problem could be solved with Gomes playing.

Goals are lacking but also something needed in order to win matches. It will only get tougher this season.

Now, I will state the obvious here. Football is about winning and to win goals need to be scored. United have scored just eight goals this season in the five matches they have played. Half of those were scored in one match, the 4-0 victory over Chelsea at the start of the season. This is clearly not enough goals from a club that has scored for fun in the past.

United has scored once against Wolverhampton Wanderers, a 1-1 draw. Once against Crystal Palace, a 2-1 defeat, once against Southampton, a 1-1 draw and now once against Leicester City, a 1-0 victory. That one goal was enough in the latest match but it will not be enough in future matches. United did well against Leicester’s onslaught, it may not work all the time.

Obviously, having Anthony Martial on the sidelines through injury, also losing Paul Pogba, and Jesse Lingard, who to be fair have not created many goals this season, but have in the past. I would have liked to see youth given a fair crack of the whip from the start today but United also needed to win. That pressure will be different on Thursday.

Solskjaer will have to get used to his squad playing twice a week for the foreseeable future with United facing FC Astana in the Europa League, kicking off a 20:00 BST on Thursday at Old Trafford, from there, they will travel to London to face West Ham United at 14:00 BST on Sunday at the London Stadium. The Carabao Cup sees fixtures coming thick and fast.

Ratings: United beat Leicester through Rashford penalty; De Gea, Maguire or McTominay the Man of the Match contenders

Manchester United beat Leicester City 1-0 at Old Trafford, returning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to winning ways after two draws and one defeat in the three matches before this one. Marcus Rashford was the key to winning this game and giving United three points, putting United into the top four of the Premier League, at least until Sunday afternoon.

United opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match with Marcus Rashford won a penalty after Caglar Soyuncu made a challenge against the England forward and the referee, Martin Atkinson gave the penalty. Rashford hit his effort low and to the right of Kasper Schmeichel, who went in the wrong direction, putting United in the lead at Old Trafford.

David De Gea made a great save to deny Leicester from an equaliser in the 30th minute of the match after Harry Maguire headed away a James Maddison corner which went straight to Ben Chilwell on the edge of the box, he then chested the ball down and volleyed towards goal for De Gea to tip the effort over the crossbar.

Daniel James was lively throughout the match, even having a shot on goal six minutes into the second half from 25-yards out, however, it was well off target not pressuring Schmeichel. Leicester then started to turn the pressure on which was not ideal thinking about the same happening against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Southampton.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper who is rumoured to have signed a new contract with the club kept his team in the game in the first half after denying Leicester City from getting back into the game. De Gea kept his resolve and despite this not being a thrilling victory for United, it was a victory.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The right-back did not look at his best, presumably not fully fit to start but put himself forward to help his team through an injury crisis. In defence though, the 21-year-old did everything he needed to, as would have been expected.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The Ice Man made a mistake which James Maddison could have capitalised on in the first half but recovered well as the game grew on, which was good to see. The clean sheet and a return to winning ways could be enough to return his confidence, which seemed to slip recently.

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5 Harry Maguire

The £80 million man was not at the top of his game against his former club with some mistakes which would have tested the Old Trafford crowd a little. However, he overcame that and even had a headed effort on goal, which his former teammate stopped from putting United 2-0, which would have been great, in my opinion. He also produced some last-ditch challenges, which helped United limp to the finish line, taking all three points in this match.

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18 Ashley Young

The club captain had a strong start in the game, despite some of distribution being somewhat questionable. However, his best moment in the game was finding Daniel James with a great pass. Young then started to go off the boil. Solskjaer had not availability to take him off, if that was ever a plan.

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31 Nemanja Matic

I was not all that enthused to see the Serbian starting against Leicester. I would have preferred to see a more attack minded player, such as Angel Gomes. Matic did enough to keep United ahead from their earlier penalty.

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39 Scott McTominay

For me, McTominay was United’s best player on the pitch today, with De Gea coming a close second. The Scotland international fought for every ball and put himself on the line a few times. For those who criticise him, I do wonder what it is they actually see, or how they perceive or understand the situations they can see?

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15 Andreas Pereira

The Belgian-born Brazilian started in the right-wing position but was also having to take on defensive duties, presumably because Wan-Bissaka was not 100% fit for this match. He impressed me with the energy he put into the game but could have perhaps read the game better, especially when Fred found him after recovering the ball - he could have scored United’s second goal.

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8 Juan Mata

The Spanish midfielder lacks pace but has a great mind to read the game. I though he did well, at times, and could have scored a goal himself. Having Angel Gomes on the pitch also could have been a masterstroke for Solskjaer though.

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21 Daniel James

The Welshman did not match Solskjaer’s record of scoring in his first three matches at Old Trafford. Not to worry though, he continued his development and did not disappoint in his fifth appearance for the club. He had chances to change the game, firing one shot over the crossbar, somewhat narrowly, and pressured the opposition consistently, which was great to see. To hear the crowd sing; “James, James will tear you part again” was great too. Something he should be proud of.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Won a penalty in the eighth minute of the match and took that penalty, beating Kasper Schmeichel, who was sent in the wrong direction. Rashford hardly had much involvement in the game other than scoring the penalty, however, in the last six minutes to the match, he took a free-kick which struck the crossbar, denying United from opening a two-goal cushion.

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Substitutes

17 Fred

Replaced Matic 67’. Despite this being his first appearance of the season, the Brazilian showed some quality both on an off the ball. At one point, he recovered the ball on the right, ran into the box and tried to play the ball to Pereira, who just missed receiving it. Fred should be starting more often and perhaps, with him off the mark now in terms of appearances, a switch to a better formation might be on the cards. 4-3-3 anyone?

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Tahith Chong

Replaced Mata 70’. I was glad to see some talented youth players given a chance. He had a spark and a drive about him which was not present in the game at the time he came on. Got forward a lot of the time and chased the ball the majority of the time. Got the better of Ricardo Pereira a few times, which was good to see and will build his confidence. Needs more time in the first team. A start on Thursday?

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Replaced James 90+1. The young defender came on in stoppage time and had minutes to get involved in the game. It was not enough time for him to get much involvement but I can see what he was afforded the time. His first competitive appearance this season. More to come from him in the next few weeks and months?

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Goals: Marcus Rashford 8′ (penalty)

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; Matic (Fred 67′), McTominay; Pereira, Mata (Chong 70′), James (Tuanzebe 90+1′); Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Jones; Gomes; Greenwood

Bookings: Daniel James 84′; James Maddison 75′, Ben Chilwell 90+5′

copyright: JW