Ferocious Foxes maul Van Gaal's suicidal lambs: how Stats Zone saw Leicester 5-3 Man United
Stunning. Ridiculous. Bizarre. Outrageous. The list of superlatives doesn't end there to describe a bonkers afternoon at the King Power Stadium on which Leicester rallied from 3-1 down to score four without reply and seal their second consecutive victory of the season. Perhaps last weekend's 4-0 win over QPR for Manchester United really was 'only' against a disorganised newly promoted side.
In fairness, though, it looked like Louis van Gaal's men would be tucking away another three points here after racing into a two-goal lead via Robin van Persie's head and an outrageous chip from summer signing Angel Di Maria, and then restoring their two-goal cushion through Ander Herrera after Leicester's record signing Leo Ulloa had halved the deficit before half-time.
What happened after that, however, was breathtaking as the Foxes netted four times in 20 minutes to seal a historic victory in their first Premier League campaign since 2003/04. In that season they were humiliated 4-1 in this fixture thanks to Ruud van Nistelrooy's hat-trick. But not this time. David Nugent tucked away a penalty to make it 3-2, Esteban Cambiasso drove home an equaliser from just inside the box, Jamie Vardy slotted the hosts ahead and then Ulloa grabbed his second from the spot after Tyler Blackett was red-carded for tripping Vardy.
It means the Foxes have successfully negotiated their daunting run of opening fixtures against four of last season's top eight, plus Stoke away, and taken eight points. Van Gaal's baptism of fire was more like a romantic candlelit walkway in the form of Swansea, Sunderland, Burnley, QPR and Leicester. Or at least it should have been. For the first time in their 853-game Premier League history, they have blown a two-goal lead to lose.
Before the game FFT contributor Michael Cox remarked how this would be Manchester United's first big test of the season with their new shape (and new arrivals), and how Leicester could exploit that narrowness with their own strong wide play. As it happened, Nigel Pearson didn't elect to play two out-and-out wide men but strikers Vardy and Nugent, the former making his first start of the season after injury.
Both sides lined up with 4-4-2 diamonds. "When you play diamond against diamond, the players who are going to have the most space are the full-backs," noted Pearson post-match. Leicester's won the battle comfortably.
Picking Vardy and Nugent in those positions was his first good call, though. Both were willing runners down the channels as Leicester targeted Rafael with long balls from the start and caused the young Brazilian problems.
That said, by this point there had already been three goals - and two of them had gone in the visitors' favour. The first was crafted by new signing Radamel Falcao after a bustling run down the left followed by a beautiful cross that Van Persie connected with for his first of the campaign.
Then came Di Maria's slice of genius three minutes later. Latching on to Wayne Rooney's through-ball, the Argentine promptly produced a perfect lob over stranded Kasper Schmeichel to cap a devastating opening period from Van Gaal's men.
But back came Leicester, whose opener typified their hard-working approach of the afternoon. Man-of-the-match Vardy beat Marcos Rojo and somehow kept in his brilliant cross for Ulloa, who made no mistake with a header of equal quality.
Clearly, goals weren't going to be in short supply. It didn't help United's cause that Jonny Evans was forced off with injury inside half an hour, replaced by Chris Smalling, while young Blackett alongside him suffered a torrid time of it against the Foxes' hard-working frontmen.
Both sides had managed the same number of final-third passes after 42 minutes; Leicester's clearly concentrated down their strong areas out wide, and United's confined almost exclusively to the left side.
By half-time the former champions had tried their luck 8 times to Leicester's 3, and hadn't been afraid to rely on their new signings' individual capabilities with 3 of their efforts coming from outside the box. Di Maria was a buzzing presence coming in from the left, Falcao had helped himself to an assist and Van Persie a goal. Rooney was proving an effective link between all four players, though, and finished the half as its top passer - albeit with only 5 forward passes - and some important defensive work thrown in for good measure.
Read on for second-half analysis...