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Manchester United and Chelsea boosted in chase for left-back this summer – reports

Manchester United and Chelsea could be boosted because of Leicester City’s failure to earn UEFA Champions League football next season with left-back Ben Chilwell reported wanted by both clubs. A report by The Sun has stated that the Foxes were set to try and secure the player with a new contract this summer and they had hoped to be able to use the lure of elite European football to get that deal done. However, the club will compete in the UEFA Europa League instead.

Leicester were at one stage of the season 14 points ahead of United and their collapse, added to United’s great form since the restart resulted in the Old Trafford club breaking down their lead and finishing four points ahead of them, an 18-point surge to qualify for the Champions League next season. The 23-year-old is contracted until the summer of 2024 so there is no rush to secure him on more lucrative terms with with two suitors both offering Champions League football, it could be tough for Leicester.

If the left-back was to much for a move this summer, he would no doubt earn more money at both Chelsea and United, also playing the best teams in Europe in the Champions League, which might benefit him internationally for England, especially with the UEFA European Championships coming up next summer, after they were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic with the competition originally supposed to have happened this summer.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has suggested that the player is not for sale this summer, but aside of saying that, he does not know what the player wants. He might decide to stay at the club and sign a new contract but with bigger clubs that could offer him trophies interested in him, you never know what could happen. Leicester supporters will be confident that he could decide to remain at the club though, which would be a blow for both Chelsea and United, if both clubs are seriously interested in the player. Rodgers was reported by The Sun as saying:

“He’s not a player we want to lose. I’m quite relaxed on it. I’m not worried at all.

“We’ve got a fantastic squad that we want to keep together so I don’t worry.

“You can spin it whichever way you want. There is no intention to sell Ben Chilwell and there is absolutely no need for us to sell Ben Chilwell.

“If you want a message, the message is he’s not for sale.”

This season, the 23-year-old made a total of 33 appearances for Leicester, playing in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup. He scored three goals and assisted a further four. The player has suffered three major injuries at Leicester in his time as a first team player, which puts him ahead of Luke Shaw, whose season seems to be over after suffering an ankle injury against his former club. If Leicester are blown away by an offer for Chilwell, they may decide to see, no matter the reluctance of Rodgers. It would seem doubtful though, in my opinion as Leicester would demand a massive fee for the player with United likely to spend big in another area of the squad instead.

Written by John Walker

Harry Maguire explains Manchester United turning point this season

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has stated that Bruno Fernandes’ arrival at the Theatre of Dreams during the January transfer window was the crucial turning point of the club this season. The Portuguese midfielder has played 19 times for United since he arrived, scoring ten goals and eight assists. He has experienced defeat just once; in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley last weekend. United have been a different animal since Fernandes arrived.

United beat Maguire’s former club Leicester City 2-0 at the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon which confirmed their third place finish in the Premier League and therefore a place in the UEFA Champions League next season, after a season out of the competition. United scored in the 71st minute of the match after Anthony Martial was fouled in the box with Fernandes scoring the penalty. The victory was secured by Jesse Lingard in the dying seconds of the match, scoring the second goal. Speaking about Fernandes’ arrival being United’s turning point, Maguire, reported by The Mirror, said:

“Bringing Bruno [Fernandes] in, in January made a big difference. We’ve worked tirelessly hard on the training ground but we dropped so many points where we shouldn’t have dropped points.”

United have problems in defence, which was a problem area last season after the club conceded 54 goals in the Premier League alone. Maruire’s £80 million arrival from Leicester last summer has gone in the right direction to solve some problems but more work will be required. However, if you look at the statistics, going from conceding 54 goals in the 2018/19 season to conceding just 36 in the 2019/20 season must be seen as an improvement, surely? Maguire, talking about defending, said:

“We’ve improved on set piece defending a lot, aside from the late goal at Southampton.

“We’ve achieved what we set out to at the start of the season, finish third in the Premier League, but that’s always the least this club should be aiming for.”

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was tasked to guide the club to Champions League football next season, which during the coronavirus pandemic looked like an impossibility, from their league position. They have clawed back the 14 point lead Leicester had on them, leapfrogging them by four points to get where they needed to be. That shows signs of the club improving and closing in on their targets. Solskjaer, speaking about how proud he was to see his players achieve what they set out to do, said:

“I’m delighted. We’ve achieved a Champions League spot, we’ve come from way, way behind teams and gone past them.

“We’ve shown that we’ve got the consistency, the right mentality. We’re building a group and a performance culture here that we can be proud of.”

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes swipe at critics saying “I do it my way” after Leicester victory

Manchester United have reached the UEFA Champions League next season after finishing third in the Premier League this season under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a manager who has been criticised more often than not this season – and that is not just by so-called supporters of the Old Trafford club, pundits, commentators, former players and the like have criticised the Norwegian manager and now it is time for him to show them up.

Criticism is part and parcel of football but there always seems to be a lot more for any manager of this club with other managers seemingly getting a much better ride in the media – Frank Lampard for example. Chelsea have been terrible at times this season and during that time, Lampard was largely praised for the work he is doing at the club. Solskjaer, who has done things better more often, has been criticised for the simplest things, which seems a little bit biased.

On Sunday afternoon, United went into their final Premier League match of the season against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium sitting in third place in the league. Chelsea may have scored to quick goals at the end of the first half which put them into third and United into fourth but the Red Devils still had work to do in order to confirm Champions League football next season. They did that with goals from Bruno Fernandes (a penalty) and Jesse Lingard, beating Leicester 2-0.

As Solskjaer has achieved what he was tasked to do; achieve Champions League football, play attacking football and giving youth a chance, it shows that he is the right man to lead the club, no matter what supporters who just support the club for their history think. Even the ones who make money glory supporting United don’t have opinions that fit within the die hard supporters of the club who have followed them through thick and through thin. Whilst he was still the interim manager, Solskjaer spoke to the media, as reported by The Mirror, saying:

“It has been a massive achievement. I am in the job and I believe in what I have been doing. I do it my way and that is the only way I can do it.

“The players have bought into this. We have come so far as a team. We are building a culture. I am very proud of all their efforts and pleased.”

United were unlucky not to score earlier in the game – Fernandes did but VAR ruled the goal out for offside. It took until the 71st minute of the match to put United in the lead and that came from the penalty spot after Jonny Evans was adjudged to have fouled Anthony Martial with Fernandes slotting the penalty home – his tenth goal of the season so far. United seemed to be holding on, keeping Leicester at bay with the final minutes of the match being counted down then out of nowhere, Jesse Lingard scored United’s second goal, his first Premier League goal of the season and his first since Solskjaer’s first match as the manager. After the match, Solskjaer, reported by The Mirror, said:

“All the predictions were about sixth or seventh so that is alright. If I am getting criticised that makes me stronger and believe more in what I am doing.

“I was reading through some of the predictions a few days ago. Third with this team with the rebuild has been a massive achievement by everyone.

“But next season we want to move up the League table so we can’t take our eye off it. Next season will be even more testing and challenging with games in the Champions League too.”

United signing Fernandes from Sporting Club de Portugal during the January transfer window was the move of the season for United. In 19 appearances for the club, he has experienced defeat once and that was against Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley just a week ago. He has scored ten goals and eight assists in his 19 appearances and still have the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League to come, after a week’s rest, of course, which will be important. Solskjaer, speaking to The Mirror about his newest signing, said:

“He has been been scoring goals and creating goals. He has stepped up calm as you like and slotted away the penalty.”

United will be able to start getting their summer transfer business done now knowing that Champions League football will be under the bright lights of Old Trafford next season and the youth players will feature in the UEFA Youth League, which will be good for the U19 player’s development. Solskjaer will be looking to get a good start ahead of the new season, getting as many players into the squad before the new season starts as possible – with the transfer window closing on the 5 October.

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

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

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

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

James Maddison signs Leicester City contract extension; supposed blow to Manchester United!

Leicester City midfielder James Maddison has signed a new long-term contract with the Foxes. His new contract will expire in the summer of 2025, according to reports by The Sun. It is suggested that this news will be a blow to Manchester United, who face Leicester in the final Premier League match of the season on Sunday afternoon and had been known to hold interest in the English midfielder last summer. However, the club has now signed Bruno Fernandes.

Brendan Rodgers will be without Maddison for the final match of the season, plus five other players, which could be a blow to the club. United will need to avoid defeat to finish in the top four this season, win to finish third as their goal difference is much better than Chelsea’s who face Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final match of the season. That aside, the reports regarding Maddison say that he has signed a £95,000 per week contract at the club.

It seems weird that this is being directed at United with them missing out. Especially with the big match between the two clubs later on Sunday. Could it be mind games to try and get United off their game? It seems silly if true based on the fact that United have signed Fernandes, who would probably keep Maddison out of United’s team. There is no way that Maddison would work alongside Paul Pogba in midfield as there would be no defensive minded midfielder in the team – which would be great in an attacking sense, just not defensive. It would put pressure on the defence, which is not a good thing right now.

Obviously, United will be seeking to sign a new midfielder this summer, but there are many better options out there now and the Maddison interest seems to have run its course. He is a talented player and has a good future in the game. This season he has made a total of 38 appearances for Leicester, scoring nine goals and three assists. Fernandes has nine goals and eight assists and he played his first match for the club in February. That does not mean he is better and will always score more goals and assists, but right now it is a good sign.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was first linked to Maddison when he suggested that he wanted to keep the core of the squad British and young and the media did the linking up, picking Maddison, who would have been a good signing for the club, if they did not sign Fernandes. I would choose the Portuguese magnifico over Maddison any day. It would be good to have Maddison on the bench though, as he would add creativity when Fernandes was not playing, him being a like for like replacement.

In this day an age though, that sort of luxury is overkill for teams like United. Great for the club in the fact that they will be scoring goals galore and will always have a creative player on the pitch but for the academy, with many talented young players dreaming about making the first team on a consistent basis, it would not work. I would prefer to have Fernandes in the team and allow the likes of James Garner, Dylan Levitt and even Hannibal Mejbri given opportunities in the future to learn from the likes of Fernandes and use their knowledge to guide them into the first team permanently.

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

Manchester United eye Wilfred Ndidi as Nemanja Matic replacement – reports

Manchester United have apparently added Leicester City defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi to their transfer wish list ahead of the summer transfer window opening, according to reports. This is not the first time the Old Trafford club has been linked to the Nigerian International, who is consistently one of, if not the best defensive midfielder in the league.

The 23-year-old had previously caught the attentions of Paris Saint-Germain and a whole host of other European clubs, including Real Madrid before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football. The Express has now claimed that United ‘are taking more than a passing interest’ in the player this summer.

Ndidi replaced N’Golo Kante in Leicester’s squad three years after he joined Belgian club Genk and has been a crucial player at the club, which are currently third in the Premier League and will resume their season in Saturday’s first kick off away to Watford, seeking to keep their chase on UEFA Champions League football.

United handed Matic a one-year contract extension at the Old Trafford club but will need to seek a replacement sooner rather than later. The player has risen his form for United at stages this season, especially when injuries in the squad were rife, which was a great time to do just that. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have been pleased with that.

United have been linked with Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso and reports suggest that Ndidi could be on the list should United fail to sign either Van de Beek or Tolisso this summer with the second unlikely based on comments from the player’s agent.

This season, Ndidi has made a total of 29 appearances for Leicester, playing in the Premier League, Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup, scoring twice and assisting one more. He signed a new contract at the club in 2018, meaning his current contract will not expire until the summer of 2024, giving Leicester total control in this transfer.

copyright: JW