United host Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday with fresh injury concerns. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are unavailable along with Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw. Jesse Lingard and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are also major doubts. United head into a period of two games a week, having now both European and League Cup commitments, until the next international break in three weeks’ time.
Resilience against a rival
Leicester, unbeaten in the league thus far, will fancy their chances against United - particularly facing United at home. United must find a way to dominate. Leicester no longer just rely on the counter-attack under Brendan Rodgers, but will have plenty of opportunities to do so against Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side looking for an identity a home.
United have shown, albeit fleetingly, that they can pin teams back in periods under Solskjær, but typically against lesser opponents. Rather than a test for Leicester’s ambitions, Saturday will be a test of United’s resolve.
Maguire vs. Vardy
Harry Maguire, facing his old club for the first time since joining in the summer and, more pressingly, a lightning-quick forward who knows him inside out. There are question marks over Maguire’s ability to recover at speed on the turn. Jamie Vardy’s the gingerbread man, and Maguire will need to draw on all his experience amongst the Foxes to stop him escaping.
Creativity in midfield
James Maddison and Youri Tielemans can both hurt United given some space to do so. Without Pogba, United may concentrate on nullifying the midfield but they’ll need to create themselves. Whether Solskjær opts for experience or youth to solve Pogba’s absence, or a mixture of both at different stages, United have a severe lack of creativity that needs filling.
In an alternate universe, Marcus Rashford is lapping up the opportunity to be United’s main striker. As it is, Rashford, already in a challenging period, looks overburdened. With Daniel James clearly much more effective from the left, and United with few if any proper strikers, there’s no hiding place for Rashford. Unless Mason Greenwood steps in and up.
Plan at Old Trafford
Thrashing Chelsea first game of the season couldn’t have been a more misleading start. United desperately need to show they can control games at home, whether against adventurous sides or those banking on the usual formula of United not having much of an idea when they can’t counter. Against Leicester, they will have to do both and both well.