The FourFourTwo Preview: Leicester vs Man United
A team who are very happy to be in mid-table with five points from four games, against another who aren't.
- Stoke 0-1 Leicester (Prem)
- Leicester 1-1 Arsenal (Prem)
- Leicester 0-1 Shrewsbury (LC)
- Chelsea 2-0 Leicester (Prem)
- Leicester 2-2 Everton (Prem)
MAN UNITED FORM
- Man Utd 4-0 QPR (Prem)
- Burnley 0-0 Man Utd (Prem)
- MK Dons 4-0 Man Utd (LC)
- S’land 1-1 Man Utd (Prem)
- Man Utd 1-2 Swansea (Prem)
While Leicester have faced a daunting start to life back in the Premier League - facing Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal and a trip to Stoke in their first four matches - United have had it far easier. Louis van Gaal's new charges have yet to face any of last season's top 10 - in fact, this is their third successive game against a newly promoted side.
The Red Devils will feel they turned a corner by convincingly brushing aside Queens Park Rangers last weekend, but, well, it was QPR and they were a disorganised shambles.
The Foxes will certainly provide a sterner test for 'the Gaalacticos', having already held Everton and Arsenal at the King Power Stadium and frustrated Chelsea for over an hour at Stamford Bridge.
United certainly have the firepower to overcome Nigel Pearson's well-drilled backline. The big question for Van Gaal will be how he fits Radamel Falcao into his side.
Last weekend's performances suggest Robin van Persie would be the logical candidate to make way. Regardless of how United line up, Leicester will be confident they can frustrate their visitors.
Pearson is hoping to have Kasper Schmeichel back from the knee injury that saw him miss the win at Stoke. Ben Hamer will continue to deputise should the Dane fail to recover. Summer signing Matt Upson remains sidelined with a foot injury, while on-loan midfielder Nick Powell is unable to play against his 'parent' club.
Phil Jones (hamstring), Marouane Fellaini (foot) and Michael Carrick (ankle) are all likely to miss out for United, although Chris Smalling and Ashley Young may return (to the bench, presumably…).
Key battle: Ritchie De Laet vs Angel Di Maria
Leicester's 1-0 win at Stoke was built on defensive resolve, and right-back De Laet certainly did his part. The 25-year-old made 12 clearances at the Britannia, as well as 4 successful tackles, 3 blocks and 3 interceptions.
If the Belgian's former club line up in a similar fashion to last weekend against QPR, De Laet will likely find himself troubled by Di Maria. The Argentine started on the left of a central midfield three, but regularly found himself out on the left wing, from where he created 3 goalscoring chances for team-mates.
De Laet will need to be careful to ensure Di Maria isn't afforded the time to get wide and complete the perfect cross (only 1 of his 6 against QPR found their mark), but he'll need to be careful not to get too tight - he made 5 fouls against Stoke and could be punished more harshly - by either the referee or Manchester United's attacking players - should he do so again on Saturday.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- United 1-0 Leicester (PL, Apr 04)
- Leicester 1-4 United (PL, Sep 03)
- United 2-0 Leicester (LC, Nov 02)
- Leicester 0-1 United (PL, Apr 02)
- United 2-0 Leicester (PL, Nov 01)
Pearson and Van Gaal have, of course, not previously done battle on the touchline. Yet Pearson has no fears about facing the Dutchman and his expensively assembled side. "When you play sides like Manchester United there is going to be huge expectation, and I think it is great that the players look forward to games like this," said the Foxes boss this week. "These are the games we have aspired to play in, so I see no reason to be anything other than positive. After the first four games the players’ performances have suggested for the most part we have the capability to improve and do OK."
Facts and figures
- The Foxes have netted just 1 goal in their last 8 Premier League matches against United.
- United have gone 4 Premier League away games without a win (D3 L1); they last went 5 without a victory in September 2001.
- United have used a league-high 26 players already this season, at least 3 more than any other club.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Leicester to impress again, but ultimately come undone. 1-2.
Back 1-2 at 8/1 with Bet365. Odds right at time of publication