After what felt like an eternity, the international break has come to a close and club football has returned! All is right with the world again!
To kickoff a challenging and vital set of fixtures, Manchester United travel to the Midlands to face Brendan Rodgers‘ Leicester City. Once a fixture that wouldn’t have been given too much attention, this Leicester City side are essentially a top 6 mainstay, thereby making this away game incredibly important in more ways than one.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United need to start strong after their admittedly (dare I say “below”) average performances prior to the international break. Thankfully for Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s men, even after their dismal performances, United stand 4th in the Premier League table, only 2 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea.
Fortunately as well, for United, empirical evidence supports them getting a result tomorrow, unbeaten in 29 away games in the league, Ole’s men will want to continue the trend (Yes, I performed every ritual known to man to avoid jinxing the game by making my earlier statement).
It only gets harder from here, Solskjær needs to ensure his boys can begin the difficult climb of the proverbial mountain in a positive fashion.Embed from Getty Images
This match-up will take place on Saturday afternoon at 15:00 BST. The encounter will not be broadcasted live on TV in the UK, and for many this will mean they have to instead use illegal streaming sites, and these come with their own risks. Fortunately, NordVPN offer a safe and secure way of navigating these sites online without having to risk viruses getting past your firewall. Click here to sign up to NordVPN, where you can stream matches safely and securely, and you can also get three months for free!
Form Guide and Squad Availability
Not wanting to rehash turbulent times, Manchester United have collected only 4 points of a possible 9 in their last 3 Premier League fixtures. That’s only made to look worse when the opposition, with all due respect, should’ve been defeated quite convincingly by a United side that has as much quality as this one does.
More worryingly were the performances, against Aston Villa and Everton, United didn’t look at all convincing and certainly didn’t look like a side that had just finished 2nd in the previous league campaign and then added the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo to the squad.
Moving onto the topic of squad availability:
- United are without both their first choice centre-backs with Raphael Varane picking up an injury in the Nations League Final and thus joining captain Harry Maguire for some time on the sidelines
- Varane’s absence means there’s a strong likelihood that should Solskjær persist with the 4-2-3-1, we will see Eric Bailly partner Victor Lindelöf at the heart of the defence
- While Luke Shaw was a doubt for a short period prior to the international break, he seems to be fine in his performances for England and should therefore be available
- Marcus Rashford has spent the entirety of the international break training at Carrington and should definitely be expected to feature against Leicester, if only from the bench
- Fred and Edinson Cavani are unlikely to play a major part, if at all, considering the short turnaround time between the World Cup Qualifiers played between Brazil and Uruguay
To United’s fortune, Leicester City’s form heading into the international break has been horrible in its own right. Considering their latest 3 league fixtures as well, Rodgers’ men have only managed to collect 2 points from a possible 9.
That’s not even considering their Europa League group stage defeat at the hands of Legia Warsaw.
This should give United confidence that they can definitely get the 3 points at the King Power. And if that doesn’t, then Leicester’s league position 7 games in, should. Leicester City find themselves 13th in the league table, 6 points behind Manchester United.
Leicester’s squad availability:
- Wilfred Ndidi, a stalwart in the Leicester midfield, is unavailable due to a hamstring injury
- Wesley Fofana is still unavailable after suffering a terrible injury against Villarreal during Leicester’s pre-season preparations
- Leicester City will also be without James Justin, with the Leicester manager anticipating his return in the coming weeks
- Despite an incident against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, Leicester talisman Jamie Vardy is expected to be available for selection
- Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho is also expected to be available for selection after overcoming a recent knock
A turnaround needed
Manchester United’s season hasn’t gone how many a supporter would’ve thought and/or hoped after the summer transfer window that United enjoyed. After all, signing an electric winger with the potential to be one of the world’s best in time, signing a world class centre back and bringing Cristiano home, bring lofty expectations along with them.
Manchester United now need to start getting the results, and just as importantly, need to start performing, like worthy title contenders. The coaching staff have a veritable Swiss army knife of players at their disposal, they must utilize them, all of them, to have Manchester United where we deserve to be at the tail end of the season: in the race for the Premier League title and still in the Champions League knockout stages.Embed from Getty Images
The “rebuild” is well and truly over. It has been nothing but glorious. The squad looks a world apart from what it did when Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over.
However, a wonderfully put together squad is simply a means to an end. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been given the means, more so than any of his predecessors post Sir Alex Ferguson. He must now achieve the ends – the silverware that is ingrained within the fibers of the Manchester United crest.
Arguments, disagreements, critique, all fade away prior to a fixture. Once that starting whistle is blown, every single supporter is eager to watch a swashbuckling United side, and I hope we see that tomorrow.