Returning from the international break, Manchester United was set to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium and begin a stretch of matches that will provide a real test for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s club. Coming into the match, United announced the return of two of their centerpieces, Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire, both returning from injury.
Solskjær unveiled a fresh Starting XI that we have yet to see during the 2021-2022 campaign. The first notable change included a double pivot partnership of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matić, a familiar duo to United fans, and likely the cause of Fred’s absence due to international play. In addition, there was another familiar pairing as Victor Lindelöf took back his former position at center back in place of an injured Raphaël Varane, who is said to be out for a “few weeks” after his groin injury according to an official statement by the club.
In search of three points to set the tone for the difficult month ahead, Manchester looked flat and struggled to garnish any real momentum, despite Wilfred Ndidi being out of the Leicester line up.
Story of the game
In his return to the Starting XI and Filbert Way, Harry Maguire was met with the hostile chants from those in attendance. And to their satisfaction, the Manchester United captain delivered a performance that he’ll soon want to forget. Conceding one goal in the first half after allowing Kelechi Iheanacho to chase down a pass intended for Maguire and ultimately put into the net after Youri Tielemans curled a shot over an outstretched David De Gea glove. Maguire was beat again after the break when he was left flat-footed on a Leicester corner kick that was tapped in by Çağlar Söyüncü. Before his substitution in the 77th minute, Iheanacho made things difficult for Maguire, but Maguire alone was not the problem.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United struggled put together attacks that would give Kasper Schmichel and the Leicester back line a real challenge, putting up a shot on goal statistic that was half of the Leicester City effort (12). In addition to missed opportunities scoring, the play of United can be best characterized as sloppy and lazy, which is demonstrated by United’s 17 fouls to Leicester’s 4 and conceding 3 yellow cards, to the Foxes’ nil.Embed from Getty Images
Today’s defeat marks the end of the record-recording 29 road game undefeated streak; but after an early exit in the Carabao Cup and a late winner away from have just one point in the Champions League group stage, calls for Solskjær’s job will surely return. How Manchester United responds in the coming weeks will be telling, but facing Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City in the next three Premier League matches, a turnaround won’t come easy.
Not All is Lost
For the first time this season, Manchester United saw the return of Dr. Marcus Rashford, MBE. It did not take long to Rashford to get involved in the action after being subbed on for Jadon Sancho in the in the 65th minute, scoring just 17 minutes later. Prior to his goal, Rashford created an excellent opportunity for Cristiano Ronaldo that just missed finding the back of the net. Rashford’s return does not bode well for Jadon Sancho, who looked better today, but added another game without a goal or assist.Embed from Getty Images
In addition to Rashford’s success, Manchester United fans can find a silver lining in former teenager, Mason Greenwood‘s performance. In the week he was placed on the shortlist for Golden Boy, Greenwood showed critic why he is amongst the world’s best young footballers, scoring the game’s first goal. Greenwood showed real confidence against Leicester City, taking on defenders throughout the match and providing creative looks in attack.
Manchester United will return to Champions League football this week when they take on Group F leaders, Atalanta, at Old Trafford on Wednesday.