The Big Match Preview: Manchester United vs Leicester City

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Sunday 1st May – 14:05 – Old Trafford

This. Is. It. Leicester City, who were playing in the Championship two years ago could win the Premier League title this weekend. After Tottenham drew 1-1 with West Brom on Monday night, the Foxes just need a maximum of three points to lift the trophy, and their first chance to gain those points is at Manchester United. Claudio Ranieri’s side were emphatic 4-0 winners over Swansea last time out, meaning that they have not lost since the middle of February. The Red Devils meanwhile sit in fifth, and are five points off a Champions League spot with a game in hand over Arsenal and Manchester City. That is because last weekend they secured their place in the FA Cup final with a 2-1 win against Everton and Wembley. So both of these teams are in with a chance of silverware this campaign, but will Leicester be celebrating this weekend? It might be May Day, but Sunday could well be St. Claudio’s Day if the Foxes realise their truly incredible and unbelievable dream that seemed impossible back in August.

How Leicester City Can Win The Title This Weekend

  • Permutation #1: A win against Manchester United, no matter what Tottenham’s result against Chelsea on Monday night.
  • Permutation #2: A draw at Manchester United and Tottenham failing to win against Chelsea on Monday night.
  • Permutation #3: A loss at Manchester United and a Tottenham loss against Chelsea on Monday night.

Team News

Manchester United

  • The Red Devils could be unchanged from their FA Cup semi-final win against Everton last weekend, meaning a continuation of the 4-1-4-1 formation with Wayne Rooney in the centre of midfield.
  • The only contentious position may be at right-back, with Matteo Darmian an option to replace Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Juan Mata will have to settle for a place on the bench.
  • Luke Shaw (leg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee) and Will Keane (groin) remain sidelined.

Leicester City

  • Jamie Vardy was given a extra one-game ban in the week for his improper conduct against West Ham, meaning he’ll miss the trip to Old Trafford.
  • His replacement against Swansea last week, Leonardo Ulloa, will start after overcoming a slight back problem.
  • Jeffrey Schlupp was a surprise inclusion against the Swans, and may keep his place ahead of Marc Albrighton (who came on and scored) due to his searing pace to compensate for Vardy’s absence.

The Key Battle: Wayne Rooney vs Wes Morgan

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It’s captain vs captain.

Since returning from injury, Wayne Rooney has been deployed in a central midfield role due to the emergence of Marcus Rashford upfront.

It is a position that I think we could well see the Red Devils skipper begin to feature more in as he enters his 30s, but it does mean his goalscoring record could drop off.

Rooney has scored 99 Premier League goals at Old Trafford and will be aiming to reach a century this weekend. But he is yet to score against Leicester in the competition since joining Manchester United, and hasn’t hit the back of the net in his last six games. This only fuels the calls for him to be dropped to the bench for England this summer at Euro 2016.

A player who Harry Redknapp has said deserves to go the tournament is Wes Morgan. This would be an excellent call from the experienced boss, apart from one problem. The 32 year old plays for Jamaica. But you can see where Redknapp is coming from, as Morgan has had a superb campaign at the heart of the Leicester City defence.

He has featured in all 35 games, helping his side keep 12 clean sheets in 17 league matches since Boxing Day, including six in the last seven games. He even popped up with a goal to gain a crucial win against Southampton in April.

Morgan’s performances were rewarded last Sunday with a place in the PFA Team of the Season, and surely now the Foxes captain knows he has one hand on the Premier League trophy as well.

Previous Meetings

Manchester United wins = 60 / Leicester City wins = 33 / Draws = 27

*According to http://www.11v11.com

Last Meeting: Leicester City 1-1 Manchester United (28th November 2015)

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Jamie Vardy wrote his name into Premier League history by scoring for the 11th successive game – but both Leicester City and Manchester United missed the chance to go top of the table with this draw at King Power Stadium. Vardy, wearing golden boots, went into this game hoping to eclipse former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record, set across two seasons in 2003. And he savoured his moment in the 24th minute, running on to Christian Fuchs’ pass to send a low, powerful finish past United keeper David de Gea. Bastian Schweinsteiger headed United’s equaliser right on half-time and despite plenty of energy from both sides after the break, neither could find a winning goal. [Full BBC report]

Managers Quotes

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Louis van Gaal: “I think we have to beat them because we are still in the race for fourth position. We cannot allow that they are the champions this weekend at Old Trafford. I think they shall be the champions a week later. We don’t spoil the party, only postpone it a little bit.”

Claudio Ranieri: “It’s unbelievable, it’s history and we know this. It is important to finish the story like an American movie. Always in the final it is okay, a happy ending. It’s a good opportunity but for this reason we have to be focused. Let me be calm, wait, we have time. I told them, ‘everything is in our hands and we must continue’. Other people can enjoy it but I am very concentrated.”

The Referee – Michael Oliver

CREDIT: MANFRED WERNER/TSUI
CREDIT: MANFRED WERNER/TSUI
  • Last Premier League game: West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Watford (16th April 2016) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Manchester United game: Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United (20th March 2016) – 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Leicester City game: Leicester City 1-0 Southampton (3rd April 2016) – 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards

2015-16 Record: Games = 32 / Yellow cards = 119 / Red cards = 9 / Penalties = 11

Stat of the Match

Claudio Ranieri has won just two of his nine Premier League matches as a manager against Manchester United (W2, D5, L2). Both victories were as Chelsea manager.

Where Can I Watch It?

Sky Sports 1 are showing the game live from 1pm on Sunday afternoon, with kick-off an hour and five minutes later. BBC One’s Match of the Day 2 will then have the highlights that evening at 10:30pm.

My Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Leicester City

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL REGAN
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL REGAN

I was very close to predicting a historic Leicester win, but as van Gaal said, Manchester United won’t “spoil the party, only postpone it a little bit” in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. I think Anthony Martial will give the hosts the lead, but a Shinji Okazaki goal will level things up. Although I do still think that Leicester will be Premier League champions by the time they face Everton next weekend due to the fact I don’t think Tottenham will beat Chelsea on Monday night.

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