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“Pogba is finally living up to the hype” – Three things learnt from Manchester United 2-0 Leicester City

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Manchester United

For much of the Saturday evening fixture, it looked as though Leicester City could deny Manchester United their third consecutive win. The Red Devils were dominant from start to finish but for 70 minutes could not find a way through.

Juan Mata had a first half goal incorrectly ruled out after pouncing on a rebound, but the real golden chance to break the deadlock was Romelu Lukaku’s as Kasper Schmeichel produced a fine penalty save following Danny Simpson’s handball in the box.

Substitute Marcus Rashford did find the breakthrough, pouncing on Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s corner only moments after entering the action.

The next two substitutes produced the next goal as Jesse Lingard’s run created space in the final third before his cross-cum-shot wasn’t deflected into the back of the net by Marouane Fellaini on the six yard box.

Here is what The Boot Room learnt from the game…

Paul Pogba is finally living up to expectations

The Frenchman arrived as the marquee arrival last summer, but in his first season he clearly felt the pressure of his huge £89 million fee. This season, with Nemanja Matic giving him a more liberated role in the midddle of the park, he is having the impact that everyone was expecting from a player who was once the most expensive in the world.

Pogba dictated the tempo and was United’s key attacking outlet, being crucial in the transition from defence to attack. He has been in superb form this season and the key challenge left for him to overcome will he to produce such dominant displays against superior opposition than the mediocre sides that United have faced already this season.

Harry Maguire is the bargain of the summer

Signed from Hull for a fee believed to be around £17 million, Maguire’s towering display showed exactly why he’s just received his first England call up. Leicester may not have been able to hold out for the full 90 minutes, but they were the first side to stop United scoring four and Maguire kept Romelu Lukaku very quiet throughout.

A real mountain of a man, Maguire’s physical presence proved hard to beat. Winning five aerial challenges, more than any other Leicester player, it took United some time to find a way around him. Maguire is the kind of opponent who previously stopped Manchester United in their tracks and held out for a clean sheet, but unfortunately for the 24-year-old, United’s attack is much more clinical this season.

Competition for places is Manchester United’s biggest strength

In each of the two opening games of the season, Anthony Martial has come on as a substitute to score. With Martial starting against the Foxes, it was Marcus Rashford who took up the reigns as super sub and came on to score the opening goal. His strike came only three minutes after his introduction and was indicative of the attitude of Manchester United’s squad.

The second goal was fully constructed by substitutes as Jesse Lingard assisted Marouane Fellaini, and that’s what without even considering the quality of the likes of Ander Herrera and Chris Smalling who couldn’t even make it off the bench despite having been key players last season.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Leicester City

Who is Leicester City’s new signing, Ricardo Pereira?

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Photo: Getty Images.

He may come to the Premier League as a regular in a league winning side set to travel to the World Cup as a Champions League regular, but few had heard of Porto full-back Ricardo Pereira when it was announced that terms have been agreed for him to join Leicester City.

The deal was confirmed on the club’s official website as the 24-year-old put pen to paper on a five year contract which will be confirmed on June 9th, when the international transfer window opens.

Yet, those who know Pereira well will not be surprised. The right-back was Claude Puel’s undisputed first choice at OGC Nice during his spell in France and was one of the first names on the current Leicester boss’ team-sheet week in, week out.

(Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Then, Pereira was deployed as both a right-back and a left-back, with his versatility being one of his biggest strengths in the eyes of Puel. Since then, he has added another dimension to his game, improving his attacking play and featuring in a more advanced role in midfield and even as a forward on the right hand side for Porto.

The Portuguese side have relied on the number 21 as they returned to the top of Liga NOS this season and his fine form has earned him a spot in his national team, adding to his two caps from 2015 with another in November and then being selected ahead of Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo for Fernando Santos’ World Cup squad to travel to Russia.

A strong dribbler who likes to overlap down the flank, he is a clear upgrade on Danny Simpson provided he can rapidly adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League.

With a WhoScored rating of 7.59 in 2017/18, Pereira is one of the most highly rated full-backs in Europe and possessed some of the best statistical returns in the world in his position. His signing for the Foxes represents a step in the right direction in the club’s quest to return to European football.

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Leicester City will hope Kelechi Iheanacho can live up to price-tag next season

The Nigerian striker still has to prove himself at Leicester City.

Mathew Coull

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Leicester City played out a scintillating final game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, losing 5-4 at Wembley in a game where defending appeared to be abandoned. One of the highlights of the game was a magnificent strike from Leicester striker Kelechi Iheanacho. He picked up the ball from 25 yards out and fired a rasping left-footed drive into the top corner of Hugo Lloris’ goal. It was, simply unstoppable.

For Leicester fans, it was probably just as frustrating as it was pulsating to see this strike go in. Because every Foxes fan is acutely aware that this is what the Nigerian is capable of, yet he struggles to do it on a regular basis.

(Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

In August last year, Leicester beat off a host of competition to sign the striker from Manchester City. According to ESPN, the Nigerian set the club back £25 million. But it was an investment in what is clear talent.

The former wonderkid had shown in his brief appearances for Manchester City and with the Nigeria senior team that he is a ruthless finisher in front of goal. If given chances, surely he would be a lethal Premier League striker.

But his application is often not at the right level. This season, Iheanacho managed just three goals in 21 Premier League appearances.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Yet this strike against Tottenham highlighted the fact Leicester have a potential star on their hands. He was brilliant in the Foxes FA Cup campaign, with four goals in five games. This summer he will lead the line for Nigeria at the World Cup and has a fine record with the Super Eagles.

Leicester paid £25 million for a player they hope can become a top talent. Incidentally, the 21-year-old’s middle name is ‘Promise’. If he can deliver on that next season, Leicester’s investment will not be in vain.

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Does Arsenal win justify stay for Claude Puel at Leicester?

Josh Kerr

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Claude Puel
Photo: Getty Images

Claude Puel helped Leicester secure their first win over Arsenal in 24-years on Wednesday night to round off their home campaign in spectacular fashion.

However, does the win do enough to justify why the Frenchman should stay at King Power for next season?

The Foxes ended a miserable run of five games without a win and six at the King Power Stadium by inflicting a first-ever defeat to the Gunners.

The victory, courtesy of goals from Kelechi Iheanacho, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, ensured Puel’s side now cannot finish lower than ninth.

After the win, Puel dedicated the final home game of the season to his Leicester supporters, despite many fans wanting a change of management in the East Midlands.

Puel took over from Leicester with the Foxes sitting third from the bottom – a position that had resulted in the sacking of Craig Shakespeare back in October.

Puel was a breath of fresh air for the former Premier League champions and got them quickly flying up the league table.

However, his poor form in recent weeks has also seen fans unhappy with his unimaginative style of play, and some have called for their fourth managerial change in just over a year.

The current Leicester boss found himself in an almost identical position last season when he was sacked by Southampton on the final day of the season, despite guiding the team to an impressive 8th place finish.

It comes as a cruel reminder to Puel that wins just aren’t enough in the modern game. Fans still want to see their team playing a positive brand of football that lifts them off their seats each weekend.

Puel’s obsession with results had clearly upset the Leicester dressing room, who looked jaded and unimpressed with the manager’s tactics in recent weeks, but Wednesday’s win may inspire the board to keep the 56-year-old in charge of the Foxes for next season.

Leicester can’t afford to keep going through managers and Puel’s style may not be the most imaginative, but the former Saints manager has dragged them up the table dramatically when they looked a serious contender for the drop just months ago.

The supporters need only look to Burnley for inspiration, with the Clarets recording a stunning seventh place finish that has secured them European football for next season.

Puel has an 8th and 9th place finish on his managerial CV, and supporters should be delighted with the progress made since his appointment back in October.

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