The Big Match Preview: Leicester City vs Manchester United

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Saturday 28th November – 17:30 – King Power Stadium

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy will go for Premier League history on tonight as he attempts to score for the 11th game in a row when Manchester United visit the King Power Stadium. The England forward struck for the 10th consecutive league game in the Foxes’ 3-0 victory over Newcastle last weekend, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record, and Claudio Ranieri’s side can retain their spot at the top of the Premier League table with another win. United drew a blank in their midweek Champions League draw against PSV Eindhoven, the fourth time in their last seven games they have failed to score. However, they are still only one point behind Leicester in the table, meaning they can reach the summit if they win at the King Power Stadium, which would mean handing the Foxes only their second league defeat of the campaign.

Team News

Leicester City

  • Free-scoring striker Jamie Vardy will be fit to play despite nursing a hip problem.
  • The Foxes’ only injury absentee is Matty James, who has not played this season because of a knee injury.
  • The one conundrum facing Claudio Ranieri will be whether to play Leonardo Ulloa alongside Vardy in a 4-4-2 formation or revert back to the 4-4-1-1 system and play Riyad Mahrez “in the hole” behind Vardy.

Manchester United

  • Phil Jones and Ander Herrera, who went off with ankle and hamstring injuries respectively last weekend, remain sidelined.
  • Michael Carrick is unlikely to feature as he is still recovering from the ankle injury he suffered playing for England against Spain two weeks ago. Long-term absentees Luke Shaw (leg) and Antonio Valencia (foot) remain sidelined.
  • Marcos Rojo has also emerged as an injury doubt on Friday evening and his absence could even push Van Gaal into deploying a back three with Paddy McNair drafted in alongside Chris Smalling and Daley Blind.

The Key Battle: Riyad Mahrez vs Matteo Darmian

CREDIT: REX FEATURES/RICHARD CALVER
CREDIT: REX FEATURES/RICHARD CALVER

With the form that Jamie Vardy is in this season, it would be very easy to forget how well Riyad Mahrez is also performing. The Foxes winger has seven goals and six assists in 11 Premier League starts this season and been just as influential as the England striker.

As with Vardy, rumours are beginning to spread about clubs wanting to sign the Algerian, with Arsenal, Chelsea and today’s opponents United keen to get him on their books.

That means that Louis van Gaal could treat this game as a scouting opportunity, and see how Mahrez gets on against Matteo Darmian, who could be deployed at left-back like he was last weekend against Watford.

Since signing from Torino in the summer, the young Italian has been solid if unspectacular in a Red Devils defence that has been impressive despite a lot of rotation. Indeed, United have conceded just nine goals – two less than anyone else and 11 less than Leicester.

Previous Meetings

Leicester City wins = 33 / Manchester United wins = 60 / Draws = 26

Last Meeting: Manchester United 3-1 Leicester City (31st January 2015)

CREDIT: ACTION IMAGES/JASON CAIRNDUFF
CREDIT: ACTION IMAGES/JASON CAIRNDUFF

Manchester United scored three first-half goals to easily beat bottom side Leicester and move up to third place in the Premier League table. After a slow start from United, Daley Blind set up Robin van Persie to break the deadlock with a precise finish. Radamel Falcao followed up Angel Di Maria’s shot to make it 2-0 before Wes Morgan headed into his own net to cap a miserable first half for the Foxes. Leicester belatedly replied through Marcin Wasilewski’s late header. Louis van Gaal’s side were not at their best but they did not have to be against a Foxes side who offered little in attack. [BBC]

Managers Quotes

CREDIT: REUTERS
CREDIT: REUTERS

Claudio Ranieri: “It’s the big match of the Premier League this week. We are top of the league and in this moment we deserve this. For us, it’s another match to see how we have to improve. When we play great teams, great champions, I have to see how our team show the tactics – how we react if we lose a goal and how we react if we score a goal.”

Louis van Gaal: “I don’t think anybody has expected that [for Leicester to be top], even Leicester themselves. But they are deserved at number one because points are the most important thing; goals are important, but winning points is more important. The teams that is having the most of these points are ahead and it’s always like that.”

The Referee – Craig Pawson

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL REGAN
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL REGAN
  • Last Premier League game: Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City (21st November 2015) – 5 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Leicester City game: Leicester City 2-5 Arsenal (26th November 2015) – 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Manchester United game: Manchester United 0-0 Newcastle United (22nd August 2015) – 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards

Stat of the Match

When the two sides met at Filbert Street in October 2000, Leicester were top of the Premier League and Manchester United were second. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won 3-0 and went on to win the title, while Leicester finished 13th.

Where can I watch it?

Sky Sports 1 are showing the top of the table clash live from 5pm, with kick-off half an hour later. Alternatively, the highlights will be on BBC One’s Match of the Day at 10:20pm tonight.

My Prediction: Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United

CREDIT: MATTHEW PETERS
CREDIT: MATTHEW PETERS

Leicester have scored in every league game so far this season, but their defence have also conceded a fair few, so I can see this game being a high scoring affair, and ultimately ending in a draw. I think Manchester United will take the lead through Wayne Rooney, before a Jamie Vardy brace (who else?!) gives the Foxes a 2-1 leader. But the Red Devils left it late to snatch a win at Watford last weekend, and I think they’ll also score late on this evening and earn a draw through a Memphis Depay goal.

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