Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Can Leicester City keep alive their record of turning in exceptional results against elite clubs to go with their disappointing ones against bad teams? The latest side to put this odd phenomenon to the test are Manchester United, vastly improved since the appointment of Old Trafford folk hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager. Leicester picked up a draw away at Liverpool this season – one of only two sides (the other is Manchester City) to have avoided defeat at Anfield in 2018/19.
The visitors today also drew in their midweek assignment, although they’ll have greeted it as two points dropped and not one gained. A 2-2 draw with Burnley was impressive in its way, considering the score was 2-0 to Burnley as the clock ticked around to 87 minutes. However, it marked the first time that United have failed to win since Solskjaer’s arrival – and may also have given Claude Puel something of a blueprint for how the rejuvenated United can be made to stumble.
Leicester City vs Manchester United Prediction: Leicester City 1-2 Manchester United
Leicester’s famed ability to score even when they don’t play well has been tested this season. Defeats against Crystal Palace and Cardiff in the last couple of months saw the Foxes fail to find the net, and produce very little in the way of attacking focus. Nonetheless, against bigger and better opponents, they always seem to find a punch that lands. As such, we’d expect them to be on target again here – but at the same time, United have been finding ways to win, and a 1-0 victory at Spurs shows that they aren’t just flat-track bullies. An entertaining game here looks like narrowly going the way of the visitors.
Our recommended tip: United win & BTTS
Leicester’s side is dotted with players who can get on the scoresheet – Harry Maguire’s return of three goals in the league would make a few strikers jealous – and even though no-one, even Jamie Vardy, has scored a lot for them this season, they’re capable of hurting United. The problem is that they also hurt themselves, far too often. A lack of consistency in defence is bad news whoever you’re up against, and with Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku on the opposing side, it’s hard to see the Foxes holding out here. Coral have odds of 29/10 (3.90) on United winning and both teams scoring. Those seem very tempting indeed.
In years to come, there will be a quiz question that goes “Which club conceded the first goal of the Premier League season three years in a row?”, and the answer will be Leicester City. On the opening night of the season, they completed this regrettable hat-trick by falling behind three minutes into a 2-1 defeat at the hands of today’s opponents – Paul Pogba tucking away a penalty after a Daniel Amartey handball. Leicester acquitted themselves quite well for the rest of the game, and had chances to level the score before Luke Shaw made the points safe for the home side – a late consolation from Vardy being as good as it got for the Foxes.
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Players to watch: Youri Tielemans & Marcus Rashford
After a very quiet transfer window, Leicester finally added to their squad on deadline day with the sort of player they’ve needed all season. The Foxes’ midfield features solid, but overly similar, players in Wilf Ndidi and Papy Mendy. Tielemans – a graceful playmaker with fine ball control and an eye for a pass – has the ability to add some silk alongside the steel provided by the aforementioned duo. He can also chip in with a goal or two, and may take some of the creative pressure off James Maddison and Demarai Gray.
Rashford – often pushed out to the wing under Jose Mourinho – has been trusted through the middle by Solskjaer – himself a pretty useful striker in his day. The result has been undeniably impressive, with some one-to-one finishing training from the new boss apparently having paid immediate dividends. A nascent partnership with Romelu Lukaku could well deliver good things for United, and there’s every chance of the academy graduate adding to his eight league goals here.