Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
After an opening-day 4-0 battering of Chelsea, Manchester United would have been feeling pretty confident about the 2019/20 season, particularly with a three-game run against Wolves, Crystal Palace and Southampton on the agenda. However, having taken just two points from those three winnable games, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men now face a Leicester side that sits third in the top flight, and is there on merit. While the bookies make United favourites for this game, an away win would surprise few people.
Under Brendan Rodgers, City have started the season looking like a better side than today’s opposition. A tough goalless draw against Wolves was followed by a 1-1 tie at Chelsea, after which the Foxes kicked up a gear to dispatch Newcastle and Bournemouth. They haven’t beaten the Red Devils since 2014 – a bizarre 5-3 victory at the King Power Stadium – but they may never have a better chance to walk into Old Trafford and win.
Manchester United vs Leicester City Prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Leicester City
Convention would frown on predicting a home defeat for a Manchester United team against anyone but the elite of Europe, but convention is a cautious thing. It’s hard not to think that Leicester are a better and more complete side than their opponents here – and given that the home side parted with £85million to sign their visitors’ star player in the summer, that should concern the home fans. Harry Maguire has looked generally assured in a red shirt thus far – but they must regret not digging deep for the £40million that would have got them Youri Tielemans. Given that Paul Pogba has been hovering around the Old Trafford exit door for a few windows now, they could do with the Belgian’s intelligent playmaking.
Our recommended tip: Leicester win
While the team sheets could spring a surprise or two here, it’s inescapable that Rodgers could pick his Leicester side with his eyes closed, something that has helped his team look like a match-ready unit from the get-go. Solskjaer does not seem to have that luxury – injury has deprived him of chosen striker Anthony Martial, who will be joined in the treatment room by Pogba. It leaves United wondering whether to move Marcus Rashford from the wide position he tends to inhabit, or select 17-year-old ingenue Mason Greenwood at centre-forward. In midfield, Scott McTominay and Andres Pereira will face Wilfried Ndidi and Tielemans – with the latter sounding more like a title-winning midfield. Betway have 14/5 on an away win, and those odds seem hard to ignore.
That eight-goal bonanza in 2014 aside, Leicester’s record against the Red Devils since they returned to the Premier League that year has not been the best. Last season, the Foxes were on the wrong end of a pair of defeats; one on the campaign’s opening night, when Pogba’s penalty and a Luke Shaw strike beat a late finish from Jamie Vardy. When the sides reacquainted themselves in Leicester last February, a ninth-minute Rashford strike was the game’s only goal. Positive omens for the home side tomorrow? Perhaps, but Leicester have improved a great deal since then.
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Players to watch: Harry Maguire & Caglar Soyuncu
All eyes will be on Maguire as he plays against the Foxes for the first time since his summer move. Although he didn’t cover himself in glory for the opening goal when United lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace, the fault for that strike lay elsewhere – and it could be argued that he’s been the side’s best player so far this campaign. Nothing will get past him easily tomorrow, even Jamie Vardy, who’s made a career out of being tough to play against. Maguire’s composure and solidity in the air has made United a more secure unit.
If the player who has left Leicester will draw focus on the United side, the visitors’ key player might just be the one who replaced him. Soyuncu, who arrived last summer and barely played for a season, has started every game this campaign for the Foxes. Just four games in, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been there all along. Uncompromising in the tackle and graceful on the ball, the Turkish international has filled the gap left by Maguire admirably so far, not putting a foot wrong through 360 minutes of football.