Manchester United will be hoping to delay Manchester City‘s Premier League title celebrations once again as they host Leicester City at Old Trafford in a Tuesday evening fixture.
After making a beautiful second half comeback against Aston Villa, United beat them 3-1 at Villa Park in what was the first fixture of a hectic seven-day haul for the Red Devils. The win against Villa ensured a place for United in the Champions League for a second consecutive year under Ole Gunnar Solskjær. A win against Leicester on Tuesday could somewhat solidify the Red Devils’ hold on the second place and another win against Liverpool on Thursday would be enough to confirm a second-place finish.Embed from Getty Images
Tuesday evening’s clash will be televised live on BT Sport 1 with the coverage beginning at 17:30 BST. The referee will be Craig Pawson.
A Form guide
United venture into this fixture remaining fourteen games unbeaten in the Premier League since their 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield United back in January. United have also won four of their last five league games with the only dropped points being a draw against Leeds United at Elland Road.
The Red Devils’ last encounter with Leicester City was not a game to rejoice about as they missed out on another cup final, losing 3-1 to to the Foxes to crash out of the FA Cup. Whereas, United have beaten Leicester thirteen times in the nineteen league clashes between the two clubs, and Leicester only managing to beat United just twice, last winning a league fixture against the Reds back in September 2014.
United’s last league game against the Foxes was a 2-2 stalemate in a boxing day fixture. It was a thrilling encounter with United taking a late 79th minute 2-1 lead via a sweet Bruno Fernandes strike, only to let Leicester equalise in the 85th minute with an Axel Tuanzebe own goal.Embed from Getty Images
For Brendan Rodgers‘ side, they venture into this game off of a 4-2 loss against Newcastle United in what was a surprise home defeat against Steve Bruce‘s side which saw the Foxes lose against the Magpies for the first time since 2018.
Leicester City are in a decent form themselves, having won three out of their last five league games, but also having dropped points against Newcastle United in 4-2 loss and a 1-1 draw against Southampton.
The tight schedule and the new wave of injuries faced by United could see Ole Gunnar Solskjær make a few rotations to the team. Harry Maguire is highly unlikely to feature against the Foxes given the fact that he had to be taken off late in the second half in the win against Aston Villa in what seems to be a suspected ankle issue. He could be set to be replaced by Eric Bailly in the starting line-up for today’s game.
Amad Traore, Donny van de Beek, Axel Tuanzebe and Juan Mata could also be in line to feature for the Red Devils as a game against Liverpool is just 48 hours after the Leicester fixture.Embed from Getty Images
Though the chances are low, Marcus Rashford could be on the bench given the fact that he has been playing with injuries for a certain amount of time and was seen struggling in the game against Villa.
Apart from Maguire, United could also be without Anthony Martial, Phil Jones and Daniel James who have all been sidelined for some time and might not return for the upcoming game against Liverpool either.
The Foxes on the other hand will have to be careful while assessing the situation of James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira as an FA Cup Final is just on the horizon for them. Full back James Justin, centre backs Jonny Evans and Wes Morgan, and winger Harvey Barnes are all set to miss out on this fixture.
Timothy Castagne is expected to start if Rodgers chooses not to risk the fitness of Ricardo Pereira. Whereas, if James Maddison is not to be risked, Spaniard Ayoze Perez would be given a start instead.
Ones to Watch
The key player to look out for from Manchester United will be Edinson Cavani.
The 34-year-old just signed a one year extension with United yesterday and has been in an excellent form be it as a member of the starting XI or be it from the bench.
The Uruguayan has managed to score eight goals in his last seven games while also assisting twice. He has also seemingly broken the “number 7” curse at United since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2009 given his goal-scoring prowess and consistent performances in all competitions this season.Embed from Getty Images
The player to watch out for from the Foxes will be Kelechi Iheanacho.
In recent months, the Nigerian striker has become the most in-form player in the Premier League. After scoring five goals in March, he was named Player of the Month. With Leicester City dealing with a slew of injuries recently, the 24-year-old has filled in admirably for Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, and Jamie Vardy, keeping the Foxes in contention for a top-four finish. After scoring four goals and assisting twice in April, he has remained in contention for a second consecutive POTM honor.
Iheanacho also scored in the 2-4 loss against Newcastle recently, maintaining his excellent goal-scoring form and showcasing his quality.
Second Place Confirmation?
A win in today’s fixture would all but confirm United’s hold on the second place in the Premier League table. Ole’s men have already confirmed a spot in next year’s Champions League but are yet to claim the second place spot and a win against the Foxes would help them achieve that.
Although the Red Devils still have a chance to overtake Man City at the top of the table, they are still 10 points behind their bitter rivals with four games remaining, and a loss here will see City take the title from Liverpool as anticipated. Even if United win against Leicester – which will be their 15th Premier League match without loss – it would only postpone City’s imminent title celebrations by a few days, but the Red Devils are almost certain to finish in the top four.