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What Was Said: Jose Mourinho – We had the results; three very solid, compact performances

Manchester United beat Leicester City 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday, making it three wins in three matches at the start of the season, the same as last season. This season has been slightly different though. United seem to be full of confidence, which at this stage cannot be anything more than feeling good, looking good and the three wins in a row adding to that. United have better players, which were needed from last season and have an attacking line which can create and score goals. Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been better players this season with Pogba scoring twice this season already and Mkhitaryan assisting five goals in three games.

The international break will be the big test for United, this was where they fell foul last season, facing Manchester City immediately after the break, losing 2-1 and then going to lose the first UEFA Europa League match and another Premier League clash, three defeats in a row. This is where complacency for United started and the season became difficult thereafter. Jose Mourinho will be looking to make the changes which make his team different from last season why is why he seems to be playing down the fact that Manchester United are top of the league, three weekends running, scoring ten goals and conceding none. After the match, speaking to MUTV and BT Sport the following players and managers said:

Jose Mourinho on Leicester City and the way they defended in the 2-0 defeat to United:

“The blue wall was very well organised and I always give credit for that. They defended amazingly well, but we kept calm and kept control of the game. If I had to find the words to describe my team I would say solid. I think this season there is a difference in the quality of our football, we are playing better.”

Marcus Rashford on it being one of those games for Manchester United just before he helped get three points in the bag:

“You do think it’s going to be one of those days when you’re watching the game. We have players that are in the starting XI and the players that are on the bench to try and make the difference and this year I feel like we have more fire power and different dimensions of playing styles, so we put ourselves in better stead for games like this which are difficult.”

Paul Pogba on United having many chances and how the substitutes made an impact in the game, something which could be said for all three matches so far:

“We had so many chances. I was a bit scared but we kept pushing and I think this season the luck has turned our way. That’s why we need depth, we always say get ready because the substitutes can make an impact on the game and they did today so we’re very happy with that.”

Juan Mata on winning three out of three ahead of the international break:

“Nine points out of nine, I am happy before the international break but we have our feet on the ground. We created enough chances to score today and I think we are the deserved winners. It was a convincing performance and it felt like we were never going to score, but finally we did. The starting 11, we tried our best but it was very important that the three substitutes gave us a lot.”

Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the importance of the victory, not how you win:

“A win is a win, it doesn’t matter if you win 4-0 or 2-0. The most important [thing is] that you win. It was very, very good that we have won and we have [won] three out of three.”

Paddy Crerand on Manchester United’s terrific display:

“Another terrific display by United and it’s great to see the defence conceding no goals again. There’s so many players in the squad now, top-class players who are all fighting for their place in the team.”

Craig Shakespeare on Manchester United’s set-pieces being Leicester’s Achilles heel:

“When you come to Old Trafford in the form they are in, they will have big moments. We had our moments too but could not see the game through. Set pieces are our Achilles heel at the moment. We need to organise and set things up better.”

In his post-match press conference, Mourinho went into much more detail about his sides third victory in a row in the Premier League this season. The manager started by talking about his player’s positivity, saying:

“I think we played very well. The result was open at 0-0. The blue wall was very well organised and I always give credit for that. They defended very well. After the goal, I have to say we were very good. If I have to choose a word to describe my team, I would have to say solid. All the players are motivated. They are on the bench waiting for a chance.”

Mourinho then spoke about the substitutions; Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard, and the impact all three made – Rashford scoring a goal, Lingard creating one for Fellaini, saying:

“I’m happy for them – all of them working hard, trying to be in the line-up. They are on the bench, they get one minute on the pitch and ready to give everything. I saw [Ander] Herrera on the bench, screaming, speaking, helping players and he wasn’t on the pitch. This is the group we have and the team we have.”

The Portuguese manager also spoke about patience and how it paid off for his team at Old Trafford, saying:

“It could be [one of those days] but the reality is that last season, for example against Bournemouth, we lost a penalty but after the penalty, we were emotionally in trouble and this time we missed a penalty and we weren’t emotionally in trouble. We kept playing and then I made the changes to intensify the dynamic in attack and to bring [on] Marcus [Rashford] who is obviously a completely different player than [Juan] Mata and then we score and Marouane [Fellaini] to play instead of Micki [Henrikh Mkhitaryan] who had a yellow card to control the aerial space in front of our box. So, I have the options, the players are giving me the answers and I’m really happy with this first month of the season.”

Mourinho also spoke about quality making the difference, saying:

“The difference is the quality of our football, we’re playing better and if we hadn’t won this match I wouldn’t have anyone to blame. The team is playing very well and I’m very confident. We are comfortable on the ball and dangerous on the counterattack. But nine points after three matches is nothing different for us because we did that last season.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic rejoined Manchester United on Thursday for another year, something which had been talked about for a few days. Mourinho did confirm that the Swedish striker would be back in the second half of the season, confirming that after the 2-0 victory over Leicester City, saying:

“He will be back in January. When the market is open and people are spending money we don’t. But we get a player who was fundamental for us last season. He comes to give us extra quality in the second half of the season.”

Mourinho concluded by talking about United’s perfect start to the new season, saying:

“No [we couldn’t have hoped for better] but I repeat, last season was the same, but the only difference was that last season we had the results but not great performances and I think these three matches, we had the results and three very solid and compact performances.”  

Manchester United will now be out of action for a fortnight because of the first international break of the season. The first game back will be against Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on the 9th September, days later United commencing their UEFA Champions League season at Old Trafford against Swiss side FC Basel. United will see the fixtures coming thick and fast in September, which should test the squad as they will need to rotate to maintain freshness throughout the busy months, that being until December then the final Champions League match will be played with January seeing United’s start in the Emirates FA Cup. United do have the squad to deal with the pressure, that was proven last season and now with three new signings, a fourth coming in the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in January, when he will be back for United, the players should be positive of what is still to come.

Report: Rashford and Fellaini score to send Manchester United to the top of the Premier League

Manchester United beat Leicester City 2-0 at Old Trafford with Marcus Rashford scoring the first goal of the match minutes after he came on as a substitute. United dominated Leicester and pressured them for much of the match. United won a penalty after Danny Simpson handled the ball in the area, Kasper Schmeichel thwarting Romelu Lukaku’s spot kick which could have seen him score in three consecutive Premier League matches, which was not meant to be. Marouane Fellaini scored United’s second goal with the assist coming from Jesse Lingard, both late substitutes in the match.

Jose Mourinho made one change to the team which beat Swansea City 4-0 last weekend with Anthony Martial making his first start of the season, Marcus Rashford being benched. United started well and immediately tried to get an opening goal putting Leicester’s defence under pressure twice in the opening few minutes. In the 13th minute of the match, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s effort on goal was deflected and collected by Kasper Schmeichel. United have been on top of the game since it started with Leicester getting into United’s final third a few times, not doing anything when they were there.

United found a goal through Juan Mata in the 18th minute but the Spanish midfielder was adjudged to be offside and the goal would not count. Seconds later, United were on the attack again with Anthony Martial crossing over to Paul Pogba on the other flank and volleying the cross, going just wide of the target. United seemed determined to get something early in the game with another chance coming in the 20th minute of the match. The Leicester team needed to do so much more to get something out of this game, playing somewhat too deep in their own half. Fear factor maybe?

In the 23rd minute of the match, Leicester were through with Jamie Vardy making the run, United thwarting him from doing anything and him passing back to Shinji Okazaki who made the shot with David De Gea making an easy diving save. At the other end of the pitch, Pogba had a shot from well outside of the box, just missing the target. Pogba, after all the abuse which was given last season his certainly showing his class this season. Perhaps his haters will grow to hate him more, just so he can make them hate him even more. When opposing fans hate a United player, it means United are starting to return to the team they once were under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Just before the half hour mark of the match, Pogba had another shot on goal, clearing the crossbar. Based on attacking intent, United were still in the driving seat but had not done enough to punish their opposition. It was similar to the last two matches, a tough affair with United getting the ball into the area more times than not. United seemed to be throwing everything at that elusive goal, it still not coming 33 minutes into the match. Martial played the ball into Mkhitaryan with was deflected out for a United corner in the 34th minute.

Daley Blind took the corner, Okazaki making the clearance with United gaining possession in the final third. Harry Maguire sent the ball out for a throw in and United had another shot, Schmeichel making the save. United won a free kick in the 37th minute after Maguire brought Romelu Lukaku down outside the box, Pogba taking the free-kick, clipping the wall with Schmeichel catching the ball. United were determined to get something from the game in the closing minutes of the first half, getting the ball into Leicester’s area, pressuring them more and more with one minute added at the end of the first half. It ended 0-0. All to play for in the second half.

At that start of the second half, United continued where they left off, pressing Leicester. There was a penalty cry after Lukaku was taken out just inside the box, not given then another was awarded after Danny Simpson handled the ball in the area. Lukaku took the penalty and Schmeichel made the save rather superbly. United had the chance to take the lead, the pressure will keep coming for Leicester now until United find the back of the net. In the 54th minute of the match, Mkhitaryan was booked for a challenge on Riyad Mahrez. In the 57th minute, De Gea got a foot to a cross by Mahrez which could have been dangerous for United. Leicester were starting to pressure United, the game turning a little.

Leicester made their first two substitutions with Demarai Gray and Andy King replacing Marc Albrighton and Shinji Okazaki. In the 53rd minute, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini were all warming up ahead of possible changes for United with Mourinho looking to shuffle his pack. Rashford was the first change for United, replacing Mata in the 67th minute. Rashford won a corner for United, taken by Mkhitaryan, Bailly tried to make the header, missing and the ball falling for Rashford buried his shot past Schmeichel. 1-0 to United, Mkhitaryan getting another assist. The Armenian was replaced by Fellaini in the 74th minute of the match.

Jesse Lingard will be the third and final substitute for United replacing Martial in the 75th minute of the match. Islam Slimani replaced Vardy in the 76th minute of the match with both teams using all of their substitutions with 14 minutes plus added time remaining of the match. United scored the second goal in the match through Fellaini in the 82nd minute after some good play by Lingard creating and assisting the goal for the Belgian. Rashford won a free-kick in the 89th minute after he was fouled by Matty James, the Leicester midfielder being booked.

Four minutes of added time at the end of the second half could have been a fraught affair if Fellaini didn’t score United’s second goal. De Gea made a late save to deny Leicester from a consolation goal, thwarting their corner attempt too. Lukaku was unlucky not to get on the score sheet with his chance in the final minute of play. Schmeichel was booked before the end of the match.

United were three matches into the new season and three victories on the board, nine points out of nine. Ten goals scored and three clean sheets. Heading into the first international break of the season, United will be confident. Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium in a fortnight will be their next Premier League clash with the UEFA Champions League returning three days later.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 70′, Marouane Fellaini 82′

Assists: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 70′, Jesse Lingard 82′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mata (Rashford 67′), Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 74′), Martial (Lingard 75′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Smalling, Darmian; Herrera

Bookings: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 54′

Starting XI: Martial starts as Manchester United look for three wins in three…

Manchester United face their third battle of the new Premier League season, taking on Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Jose Mourinho’s side have had a great start to the season, dominating matches, scoring eight goals without reply, the majority of those coming from the midfield, the wing even one from a defender. United have started the season in great form really putting the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup behind them, concentrating on what matters, launching a title challenge in the league this season. United finished sixth in the Premier League last season, missing out on the UEFA Champions League, at least through their league position so Mourinho’s side had to go on to win the UEFA Europa League, which they did. This season, that cannot happen. Mourinho needs to instill stability into the side, do what Sir Alex Ferguson did at the club, set the levels of expectation; win, win, win.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind;

Matic, Pogba;

Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial;

Lukaku

Substitutes:

Romero; Smalling, Darmian; Lingard Herrera, Fellaini; Rashford

Leicester City:

Schmeichel;

Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs;

Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton;

Okazaki, Vardy

Substitutes:

Hamer, Chilwell, Amartey, Gray, King, Iheanacho, Slimani

Manchester United and Leicester City have faced each other 124 times in the history of both clubs; the first match was played between Leicester Fosse and Newton Heath on the 22nd September 1894 – a 3-2 victory for the club that later became Manchester United. United have won 63 times, drawn 28 times and lost 33 times. The last defeat was the 5-3 humiliation at the King Power Stadium on the 21st September 2014 with United 3-1 up just before the hour, a penalty levelling the score, Leicester taking the lead then a penalty ending the game. Since that day, United have been undefeated by the former Premier League champions – playing six times, winning four and drawing twice. That is the unbeaten run Jose Mourinho will be looking to extend come Saturday. United have previously had many runs against Leicester; an eleven match unbeaten run commencing on the 15th August 1998 with a 2-2 draw, running all the way until a 1-0 victory on the 13th April 2004. It was over a decade before United faced Leicester again, which was that 5-3 humiliation.

Preview: Manchester United to extend unbeaten run to three matches against Leicester City?

Manchester United -v- Leicester City

Premier League 2017/18

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 26th August 2017; KO 17:30 BST

Live on BT Sport

Manchester United face their third battle of the new Premier League season, taking on Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Jose Mourinho’s side have had a great start to the season, dominating matches, scoring eight goals without reply, the majority of those coming from the midfield, the wing even one from a defender. United have started the season in great form really putting the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup behind them, concentrating on what matters, launching a title challenge in the league this season. United finished sixth in the Premier League last season, missing out on the UEFA Champions League, at least through their league position so Mourinho’s side had to go on to win the UEFA Europa League, which they did. This season, that cannot happen. Mourinho needs to instill stability into the side, do what Sir Alex Ferguson did at the club, set the levels of expectation; win, win, win.

In his second season at every club he has managed, Mourinho has lifted the league title and that is exactly what he will be aiming for this season. United have the advantage at this moment in time. It is possible that they could be toppled from the summit of the Premier League before they kick off against Leicester on Saturday, but a victory and a good one will return them to the top, possibly until after the first international break of the new season. United found out their fate in the UEFA Champions League this season, being pitted against Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow in Group A of the competition, also having an extra match scheduled in the Carabao Cup, facing Burton Albion at Old Trafford, a match which will be played on the 20th September, which is yet to be confirmed.

Leicester City will give United their toughest match of the Premier League season so far, the tactical battles will be the toughest and should see whether United can rest on their laurels heading into the international break, or whether they will still have a lot of work to do in order to challenge this season, which after two matches looks good, but there is 36 left to play. Zlatan Ibrahimovic re-signed for United on Thursday, giving the Old Trafford club another year, which will add extra attacking ability into Mourinho’s squad, also strengthening the depth of the squad, which should make it easier to rotate as the weeks progress. The first three matches of the season seem to be slow and steady – one match a week but when the Champions League and the Carabao Cup start. it will not be that easy playing two matches each week, for the majority of the first half of the season, give or take a few more international breaks, also whether United progress in the League Cup.

Previous Matches: Manchester United and Leicester City will be a tactical battle.

Manchester United and Leicester City have faced each other 124 times in the history of both clubs; the first match was played between Leicester Fosse and Newton Heath on the 22nd September 1894 – a 3-2 victory for the club that later became Manchester United. United have won 63 times, drawn 28 times and lost 33 times. The last defeat was the 5-3 humiliation at the King Power Stadium on the 21st September 2014 with United 3-1 up just before the hour, a penalty levelling the score, Leicester taking the lead then a penalty ending the game. Since that day, United have been undefeated by the former Premier League champions – playing six times, winning four and drawing twice. That is the unbeaten run Jose Mourinho will be looking to extend come Saturday. United have previously had many runs against Leicester; an eleven match unbeaten run commencing on the 15th August 1998 with a 2-2 draw, running all the way until a 1-0 victory on the 13th April 2004. It was over a decade before United faced Leicester again, which was that 5-3 humiliation.

Form: United started the season on top form but could Leicester have something to say about it?

Manchester United had a good pre-season in the United States of America, Norway and Dublin, also heading to Macedonia to contest the UEFA Super Cup, which ended in defeat to Real Madrid. United started the Premier League season in high spirits, putting four goals past West Ham United with Romelu Lukaku scoring a brace, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial also getting on the score sheet. The following week, another 4-0 thrashing, this time of Swansea City, with Eric Bailly, Lukaku, Pogba and Martial on the score sheet. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has assisted four goals in the league so far this season, just two matches in. United top the league, but that could change before the match kicks off at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday.

Leicester City started their pre-season in Hong Kong, playing twice with a further five matches played in the United Kingdom. Their Premier League season started with a 4-3 defeat to Arsenal in the first Friday night fixture of the new season, a match which saw Leicester come from behind, take the lead (twice) before conceding two goals in the final seven minutes of normal time. It showed why Leicester are a different team this season, or maybe just that Arsenal were worse than they had been, which was possible with their demise. Last weekend, Leicester played their first home match of the season, beating Premier League new boys Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0, taking their first three points of the season. United could have their work cut out for them.

Team News: Injuries coming to an end for United, almost.

Jose Mourinho has seen his squad boosted by the availability of both Luke Shaw and Ashley Young after both came through a 60-minute cameo for the U23’s on Monday evening. Both may not be thrown straight into action needing time to reach their match fitness being that neither played any pre-season games this summer. Marcos Rojo has also returned to training this week, but it is unlikely that he will be ready to play for the next few months but without confirmation from Mourinho. you never know. Both Shaw and Young travelled to the USA as did Rojo, but the pair trained whilst out there with their teammates, Rojo is probably not that far into his recovery and when he is ready, he will be tested in the U23 league. United will also be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who himself is recovering from his knee injury. Leicester will be without Vicente Iborra, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth for the visit to Old Trafford. There is a slight doubt that Kelechi Iheanacho, Danny Drinkwater (a target for Chelsea) and Harry Maguire could miss the match too. Not great news for Craig Shakespeare, but things can change in the time leading up to the match.

Predicted Starting XI: Mourinho to demonstrate his strength-in-depth against Leicester City?

Match Prediction: Manchester United to run riot and extend unbeaten run at (fortress) Old Trafford?

Manchester United 3-0 Leicester City

Opposition Scouting: Kelechi Iheanacho one of the main threats of Manchester United?

Leicester City fans could be forgiven for thinking this is a terrible time to play Manchester United. Two wins from two. Eight goals. Jose Mourinho working his magic and suddenly they’re joint title favourites. The mood is buoyant at Old Trafford and quite rightly so.

Leicester will be hoping to put a dent in this early season confidence, and I’m confident it will be United’s toughest challenge yet. Leicester have had an assured start to the season and are having no problems finding the net themselves. Were it not for a late comeback by Arsenal in the opening game of the season, we could be sitting joint top of the table with six points. With the return of some key players from injury, it’s shaping up to be an interesting game.

Leicester will need to put aside the air of uncertainty surrounding the potential outgoings of some of their biggest players whilst the transfer window is still open. There are question marks around Riyad Mahrez (who has openly spoken about his desire to leave), Danny Drinkwater, Demarai Gray, and even Jamie Vardy, who is said to be another Chelsea target.

Manager

Craig Shakespeare was given the full-time role over the summer at Leicester on merit. It’s a big statement from the club’s Thai owners, who many expected to bring in a “bigger” name as a replacement. Let’s not forget that Shakespeare has seen the club win titles in three different divisions during his two stints at the club. He was instrumental in creating Nigel Pearson’s Leicester which worked its way from League One and the Championship. Since the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri last season, Shakespeare has steadied the ship and few would say he doesn’t deserve to be in the job.

Expect him to have a calm demeanour on the touchline at Old Trafford. If things do get heated, you certainly wouldn’t want to get into a tussle with new assistant manager Michael Appleton. He signed a three-year deal over the summer from Oxford United, and to be frank looks hard as nails.

Ones to Watch

Kelechi Iheanacho will need no introduction to United fans. The 20-year-old Nigerian scored the winner for City’s 2-1 victory last season, and Leicester fans are chomping at the bit to see him start on Saturday which would mark his debut for the club since his £25 million move. Shakespeare insists he can play with Vardy, the two having connected well together in a pre-season friendly against Borussia Mönchengladbach. A toe injury at the end of that game has seen him out of action since, and his fitness may still count him out of the match. His goals to minutes ratio is one of the best in the league and could prove crucial if he does pass his fitness test.

Harry Maguire has made a strong start to his Leicester career too after a £17 million move from Hull in the summer. His performance against Brighton last weekend had some calling him a potential signing of the summer, and it’s exciting to see an assured centre half who has no issue in running with the ball and driving an attack. If his performances keep up, an England call could be on the cards.

Predicted Starting XI

Match Prediction

An early Leicester goal could ruffle some feathers at Old Trafford. Leicester have not been goal shy this season and I think this game will have a lot of attacking opportunities at both ends of the field. There’s no doubt that United are going to provide a lot of firepower; they scored four in this fixture last year, and Maguire and Morgan will have even more to contend with this season since the arrival of Lukaku.

I’m going out on a limb and predicting an upset on Saturday with a 2-2 draw, with Vardy & Iheanacho getting the goals for Leicester. We can but hope, right?

Written by Kieran Doyle of Foxes Weekly

copyright: JW