Manchester United failed to capitalise on an opportunity to go back to the top of the table, drawing 1-1 with high-flying Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. It was another underwhelming performance from United, who saw the lion's share of possession but struggled to convert it into goalscoring chances.
Louis van Gaal reverted to a back three for this fixture, with Paddy McNair and Daley Blind flanking Chris Smalling. Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian were left and right wing-backs respectively.
United saw comfortably more of the ball in the opening exchanges, but failed miserably to do anything productive with it. They were punished midway through the first half, when Leicester struck with one of their characteristically devastating counter-attacks. With United's defence twisted out of position after a corner, Foxes full-back Christian Fuchs played a perfect through-ball for Jamie Vardy, who slotted past David de Gea to score in his 11th consecutive fixture -- breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's record in so doing.
Suddenly Leicester seized control of the match, with United's defence bamboozled by their quick passing and incessant movement. Shinji Okazaki almost doubled their lead, though de Gea got down to make an excellent save at his near post. By contrast, United's build-up play was almost embarrassingly pedestrian, and Louis van Gaal's men created almost nothing from open play.
Luckily this Leicester side do have a big Achilles' heel: their defending of corners. Right on the stroke of time United managed to exploit this weakness, with Bastian Schweinsteiger diving onto Daley Blind's delivery to score for the first time since his summer arrival. But, as the players left the field seconds later, there didn't really seem to be much to celebrate: United had looked no better than they have of late, and they were second-best on everything but the scoreboard.
The second half started with chances at both ends: a free Vardy couldn't quite make contact with a looping Albrighton cross, before Kasper Schmeichel made a fine save to deny Schweinsteiger from another dead-ball. However, it didn't mark the start of 45 minutes of end-to-end excitement, quite the opposite. The game lulled and though United saw sustained spells of possession, Leicester's defence was supremely organised.
The Foxes also had the ability to spring to life in a split second. They did so just past the hour, though Leonardo Ulloa was denied at the last by a fine de Gea save. It should undoubtedly have been 2-1 to the hosts.
Memphis Depay was soon introduced in place of Wayne Rooney; it was a more than welcome substitution, though perhaps a little too little, too late. Having said that, the Dutchman did have the game's last half-chance: a header by Darmian bounced loose in the box, though after pouncing onto the ball Memphis sliced wide of the near post.