Manchester United vs Leicester City: Match preview and predicted line-ups
The fixture which kicked off the season with United’s Community Shield victory at Wembley, the Foxes and the Red Devils will clash again at Old Trafford this weekend. However, Jose Mourinho has failed to beat Claudio Ranieri in any of his last four ties against the Italian in the league and will have to be at his best to see his side win their first Premier League game since victory at Hull in August. The Saturday lunchtime kick-off will be one of the clashes of the weekend as the pressure mounts on Mourinho whilst Leicester are still yet to prove themselves as defending champions.
Victory over Northampton Town in the EFL Cup put an end to Manchester United’s three match losing streak as the club enter something of a mini-crisis under Jose Mourinho. Defeats to Manchester City and Watford were disappointing and unexpected in the case of the latter, but follow three consecutive victories at the start of the season which propelled the club into a title challenge early on in the season.
The Foxes have been in mixed form as they begin their Premier League title defence, having struggled in their big matches to date. Since defeat to Manchester United in the Community Shield, Leicester have only tasted victory up against Swansea and Burnley in the league, falling to defeat at Anfield against Liverpool and drawing with Arsenal. Midweek extra-time defeat to Chelsea was a massive blow to confidence having been 2-0 up, and Claudio Ranieri will have to inspire his side to bounce back.
Manchester United predicted starting XI Leicester City predicted starting XI
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The big headline at Old Trafford this weekend is expected to be that captain Wayne Rooney will be dropped, with Ander Herrera likely to replace him having impressed with a goal in midweek, allowing Paul Pogba to play in a more advanced role. Daley Blind is also likely to be chosen ahead of Marcos Rojo to replace the injured Luke Shaw at left-back, whilst Juan Mata will compete with Memphis Depay and Ashley Young to start on the left wing with Anthony Martial unlikely to be available.
Shinji Okazaki impressed and could be in contention for a start after scoring twice in midweek, but Islam Slimani is expected to retain his place alongside Jamie Vardy in the Foxes’ attack. If Kasper Schmeichel is unfit, Ron-Robert Zieler will remain in goal with Danny Drinkwater returning to the place where he came through the youth ranks. It is expected to be an unchanged line-up from the Premier League victory over Burnley.
Suspensions and Injuries
The Red Devils are expected to be without a number of first team players as Henrikh Mkhitaryan recovers from a thigh strain which is expected to keep him out of action. Phil Jones will also miss out with an ongoing knee problem, but there are doubts over two other key players. Luke Shaw, criticised by Mourinho last week, is expected to sit out with a groin injury, while it remains unclear whether or not Anthony Martial will be available after picking up an ankle injury and concussion in defeat last weekend at Vicarage Road.
It is unclear if goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will be available for Ranieri having picked up a muscle problem on his return to training after suffering concussion in training. Namplays Mendy and Matty James are both back in training and nearing a return, but as with Schmeichel, it is unclear if either will be available for the journey to Manchester United, with Schmeichel the most likely to be under consideration of the three with injury problems. Marcin Wasilewski will be out of action after picking up a red card in the EFL Cup defeat to Chelsea.
This game is likely to be tight, with a real tactical battle likely. United undoubtedly have the superior quality in the ranks, but as Leicester showed last season, they make up for that with their desire and fight. With the likes of Rooney and Pogba underperforming, it won’t take much for Leicester to take advantage and to secure the points for themselves. We’re going for a draw in this one, but if Rooney’s absence lets Paul Pogba loose and back on form, then it could easily be a victory for Jose Mourinho.
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