The Premier League’s top two meet at the King Power Stadium when Manchester United take on league leaders Leicester City.
What a turnaround for Leicester City who 12 months ago were rock bottom of the table, destined for relegation and against all odds, they managed to avoid being relegated under Pearson. Over the summer, the club decided to let go of Pearson and hired Claudio Ranieri which was a surprise as the tinker man had previous experience at Chelsea and other European clubs. Since the season has begun, they have managed to be the surprise of the season with their form and style of play which has rightly put them on the top of the table. Now, they are being talked about being title contenders with the current form.
The occasion is well and truly being focused on England striker Jamie Vardy who would be looking to breaking a Premier League record of Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s by scoring in ten consecutive matches and it is against the Red Devil’s. If Vardy does score, he will set the record to scoring in eleven consecutive matches in the Premier League and what a record to have against his name. It is down to the team as Vardy has said that has helped him improve from last season and seeing his career move from non-league football to top tier football shows a progression in English football giving the opportunity for anyone footballer to step up to. Likewise Smalling has come through non-league football and is playing at the highest level too.
Obviously, Van Gaal will be disappointed with the mid-week draw against PSV in the UEFA Champions League and the fact his side were not able to break the deadlock. Defensively, the team has not conceded as many goals which will be something to be proud of to keep Vardy from scoring. But it is the forwards who are not scoring that is alarming for Van Gaal. It is frustrating to see the side creating chances but no one to get on the end of these chances. It is even more concerning of the captain Rooney to score and Keane has come out to criticise the striker who should be leading by example. To be fair, it is the style of play and tactics adopted by Van Gaal that means United are robotic in attack as every pass, movement or cross is accurate and chances are limited in spaces. The midfield two who are used for protection has to change allowing one of them to join the attack. When Fellaini came on, he should have been used more forward instead of central of midfield. He is the Plan B when possession football does not work.
United will be without Phil Jones and Herrera through injuries. Carrick is unlikely to feature as he recovers from ankle injury. Luke Shaw and Valencia remain sidelined. Leicester only have Matty James as an absentee through a long-term knee injury.
Last season’s humiliating 5-3 defeat still marks one of the most entertaining and thrilling game of the season which many thought United had in the bag especially leading 3-1. It was a fixture Falcao and Di Maria played in and now they are not at the club. Things have changed where United are managing to get results as it took the last 10 minutes against Watford to get the second goal only when Watford had scored from the penalty spot. The level of urgency has gone from United where they are not pushing for a second goal. They have become hesitant into taking shots at goal unless it is a clear opportunity to shoot. This is probably why Scholes has spoken out of the team not having the freedom to play football and everything having to be precise. Memphis was subbed in the second half and Mata came on as a late sub so they are expected to start. Maybe Lingard could be dropped.
Certainly, the Foxes will not give up to grab all three points, their confidence is sky high and they are getting the attention they deserve. Ranieri has introduced a reward for the team for keeping clean sheets by buying pizzas for everyone. A great incentive to use junk food as a reward. Most importantly for Leicester is that they have a great playmaker in Mahrez who has shown up this season with goals and assists. A lot of teams have set themselves to stop him but he manages to play to his game and has provided for Vardy in his goal scoring run. Those two are formidable and without them, Leicester could have been further down the table. Overall, the game should be filled with goals but you can never predict which United side are turning up on the day.
Possible starting XI:
Leicester; Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kante, Albrighton, Mahrez, Ulloa, Vardy.
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Rojo, Blind, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Mata, Rooney, Memphis, Martial.