Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:
(1) Manchester United travel to the King Power Stadium this weekend with a chance to reach the FA Cup semifinals for the second season in a row. More than anything, a win on Sunday will give the Reds another crack at ending their recent run of misery in cup semis. Leicester City, on the other hand, have not reached an FA Cup semifinal since 1982.
(2) The Reds march on in Europe after a thrilling 1-0 win over AC Milan on Thursday night. Needing to score at least one goal to advance, Manchester United had to wait until early in the second half for Paul Pogba to pop up in the penalty box and cheekily lift the ball over the outstretched arms of Gianluigi Donnarumma. That one moment of brilliance was all the Reds needed to leave the San Siro with another famous European win.
(3) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the importance of momentum:
Momentum is underrated in football. When you keep winning games, you get that boost of energy, you get that feeling when you go on to the pitch. You’re more confident. If you’re losing, you’re afraid of losing again and afraid of making mistakes. This means a lot for the boys and the atmosphere is good in the dressing room. We’ve just got to recover quickly because there’s a game again on Sunday which we’re looking forward to. We’ve got a breather from the league, but it’s a big game again, a quarterfinal, and we dust ourselves down and go again.
(4) Manchester United injury update: After Paul Pogba’s dramatic return on Thursday — and Donny van de Beek making the bench at the San Siro — things are clearing up for United on the injury front. That leaves Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, and Edinson Cavani (who nearly traveled to Italy this week) still stuck on the sidelines.
(5) Sunday marks Brendan Rodgers’s 100th match in charge of Leicester City. While some questioned the decision to leave Celtic for a club outside the Premier League’s so-called big six, the former Liverpool boss has turned Leicester into a perennial contender for the Champions League places. In fact, his 52.5% win rate ranks best of any full-time manager in Leicester history.
(6) Leicester City crushed Sheffield United 5-0 on Sunday to keep the pressure cranked up on Manchester United in the race for second place. While pretty much everyone in the Premier League has taken their turn in punching around the Blades this season, Leicester’s win came just hours after manager Chris Wilder left the club. With their talismanic boss gone, Sheffield United played like a deflated, beaten team and barely threatened.
(7) Nonetheless, the Foxes didn’t get caught up in that storyline and cooly dispatched Sheffield United without barely breaking a sweat. Kelechi Iheanacho nabbed a hat trick and Ayoze Perez scored from his No. 10 spot to help keep Leicester City just one point behind Manchester United in the Premier League table.
50 - Kelechi Iheanacho has been directly involved in 50 goals in 76 starts across Leicester and Manchester City, scoring 36 and providing 14 assists. Product. pic.twitter.com/QeeK22zwlf— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 14, 2021
(8) A major concern in the Leicester City camp is the possible overuse of Jamie Vardy. The 34-year-old has scored just once in his last fifteen matches and hasn’t looked quite the same since his hernia operation in January. Against Sheffield United, Vardy spurned several gilt-edged chances to score — adding to worries that his heavy workload has robbed him of his trademark sharpness in front of goal. Still, though, he chipped in with three assists in the rout, so all is not lost. And, with a rare full week of rest before this weekend’s cup tie, Vardy might have an extra spring in his step on Sunday.
(9) Defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who will likely be responsible for corralling Bruno Fernandes on Sunday, blanketed the middle of the pitch against Sheffield United.
(10) Leicester City will be missing some big-time players this weekend. James Maddison will likely be out until after the international break with a recurrence of his hip injury, although Rodgers left the door slightly ajar for a shock return on Sunday. Cengiz Under is also expected back soon (though probably not this weekend), while Harvey Barnes and Wes Morgan remain on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
(11) But it’s not all bad news for the Foxes. Jonny Evans and Ayoze Perez returned from injury to play against Sheffield United last weekend and both came through the match with no further complaints. Dennis Praet, meanwhile, could be back in midfield on Sunday after two months out with a hamstring injury. And, finally, Ricardo Pereira came off last Sunday with a tight hamstring, but that was later deemed just precautionary and he won’t miss any time.