Manchester United next pay a visit to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, and do so with something still to prove. They’ve won their last two matches against Southampton and Liverpool respectively, but need to turn that into a good run of form, especially now that transfer business is all sorted. A pair of big money signings will make their way into the team at some point, with Casemiro expected to be in the starting XI either tomorrow or at the weekend. Antony will take some more time as his work visa needs to be sorted and player terms have yet to be fully agreed.
Here’s a look at the two teams heading into the fixture.
Leicester are having a weird one.
Their start to the season has not gone according to plan, losing three straight matches after drawing with Brentford opening weekend. They’ve been good for at least a goal in each of the games, but they struggle mightily to keep the other team out. Arsenal put four past them, and 10-man Chelsea managed to control the game and score twice despite their own struggles this season.
Basically this is a team that is desperate for a win, and could potentially be spiraling under ol’ B Rodg (Brendan Rodgers).
Dangerous players for them have been Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and the usual suspects of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, Harvey Barnes on the wing, and veteran goalscorer Jamie Vardy up front. None of the danger presented has been sustained for big stretches apart from the opening half against Brentford, and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to do so against United.
If United can limit mistakes in possession and the amount of times they need to defend on the break it will be hard for Leicester to create meaningful chances. They do love a good shot from distance, so David de Gea will need to be alert for that, but overall this is a task that United should be able to handle defensively.
Manchester United’s new look
The win against Liverpool got a lot of people talking about keeping the same XI, and that was the case against Southampton. It didn’t exactly look great on the south coast, but it got the job done thanks some good defending by Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
That centre back partnership is the preferred partnership for many fans who wanted to see captain Harry Maguire benched, but comments from the manager as well as the fast approaching crowded schedule ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup indicate that rotation is probably on the cards at the back.
The match against Leicester on Thursday is followed just three days later with a match against Arsenal at Old Trafford. Varane struggled to stay fit last season, and it’s looking like Christian Eriksen will be a similar case after looking gassed about an hour into each of the Liverpool and Southampton matches. Barring any fitness problems, we could see Casemiro and Fred feature in place of Scott McTominay and Eriksen, and possibly Maguire and Luke Shaw rotated back in. Victor Lindelof, who has struggled with an injury for the first weeks of the season, is only just back in training.
This should be a match which United’s midfield dominates, especially if Casemiro comes in and looks strong next to either Fred or Eriksen from the start. If Casemiro offers more protection to the back line, that could really free up the playmakers in midfield and the forward thinking full backs to join up with the front three and hopefully make more moves like what we saw in preseason and in the swift goal against Southampton.
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City
United are starting to put it together. Erik ten Hag will need to rotate with the weekend in mind, and defensive vulnerability is still for a team that is adjusting to their new manager’s style, so Leicester will have openings. The Foxes will also leave themselves open though, and this is something United can exploit.