We preview the early fixture and game of the round on Premier League Matchday 6 as Manchester United host Leicester.
Off the back of a horrid run of three consecutive defeats, including two in the league, Manchester United ended their losing streak with a comfortable (if at times unconvincing) 3-1 over Nottingham Forest.
League Form: W, W, W, L, L. (7th position in League)
After a slow start, Leicester have bounced back to somewhere near the form that brought them ultimate success last term. An inaugural Champions League win followed a belting of Burnley, before being overrun by Chelsea in the League Cup. Nonetheless, they are certainly playing much better football than their opponents leading in to this clash.
League Form: L, D, W, L, W. (11th position in League)
Will Rooney and Rashford both start for United? There weren’t too many stand outs amongst the squad players (apart from Rashford when coming on) in the win over Nottingham so Rooney may get a reprieve. We expect Luke Shaw to get another chance at left full back, but cannot be so sure about Anthony Martial with Henrik Mkhitaryan returning from injury. Will Mourinho ring the changes or stick with the tried and tested? We’re plumping for somewhere in between, with Rooney our for Rashford sure to be the main talking point.
Manchester United: De Gea, Shaw, Smalling, Bailly, Valencia, Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Fellaini, Rashford, Rooney, Ibrahimovic.
Shine Okazaki’s two goals against Chelsea keeps him firmly in the frame to start for Claudio Ranieri’s Champions. But with Islam Sliming also coming in for his own brace last weekend against Burnley, the manager suddenly has great depth up front. Kasper Schmeichel should also return in goal, with Danny Simpson likely holding his place at right back over Luis Hernandez.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Fuchs, Huth, Morgan, Simpson, Albrighton, Drinkwater, Amartey, Mahrez, Slimani, Vardy.
The fast, flowing football that Jose Mourinho promised of his side in the early weeks seems to have dissipated in recent times. They cannot afford to rely solely on Ibrahimovic and Rashford for inspiration, and need a strong showing all across the pitch to take anything away from this game.
Leicester’s counter attacking approach has the potential to be devastating, especially if United’s ball movement remains slow and indirect. If they can get the ball over the back with Vardy and Slimani running on, it could be a matter of how far Leicester.
Mourinho however has had ample time to study Ranieri’s methods and will no doubt back himself and his team to overcome the challenge. An intriguing battle of contrasting styles beckons.
Both of these sides appear able to either scoring and/or conceding for fun in recent weeks, so we’re unlikely to see a goalless draw. Playing at Old Trafford, United are strong favourites with the bookies. But we all know that means nothing to the Foxes, and they will back themselves to at least come away with an invaluable point.
Daily Football Blog Prediction: Manchester United 2 – 2 Leicester City