Manchester United vs Leicester City Preview

English Premier League | Sunday 1 May | Old Trafford | 15:05

Super Sunday awaits. Manchester United host the log leaders Leicester City, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of the Foxes lifting the Premier League trophy at Old Trafford. Leicester just need three points from as many games, now that Tottenham drew on Monday night. However, the Foxes know that they have a fight on their hands with United still battling it out for a Champions League spot. Leicester face another uphill battle, trying to better United without their fiercest Fox up front Jamie Vardy. Claudio Ranieri’s side did prove, however, that they are far from a “one man team” last weekend when they battered Swansea 4-0 at the King Power Stadium. Could this weekend see new English Champions? Or will the Foxes be hunted and taught a lesson by England’s most successful club? 

To Win (90mins)
Manchester United 21/20
Draw 23/10
Leicester City 26/10

Manchester United

For Manchester United, this has been one of the most dreadful seasons to date. They’ve had a manager who got through the campaign without any backing from the fans as they continued to disappoint, week in and week out. Yes, he surely isn’t the great Sir Alex Ferguson, but no Man United side should be flirting with the Europa League spot as he has done for most of the season. Perhaps a top four finish, along with England’s oldest trophy – the FA Cup – would be some encouragement for the United faithful. 

Man United do come into this game with a bit of form, however, with the Reds winning their last four games in all competitions, before being hammered by Leicester’s title-rivals Tottenham 3-0 a few weeks back. Louis van Gaal has stuck with his plans to bring in youth players and give them a first team opportunity, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah the latest prodigy to come up the ranks of United. Fosu-Mensah has been seen as a solid back-up in fullback position with the Red Devils’ everlasting injury list build on from time, and time again. Another youth player who seems to have adapted to first team action by now is Marcus Rashford. The young Englishman has now started 14 games in succession, and has found the back of the net seven times. That’s half of the games he’s played in. And to add the icing on the cake, United have never lost a game in which he has scored. 

Without a doubt, David De Gea has been van Gaal’s main man in the time. The Spanish shot-stopper is known for his quick reflexes and has proved to be one of Europe’s best keepers, which has seen him earn a spot in the PFA Team of the Year this season – the only player from the Manchester clubs to be in the team. De Gea has seen himself as one of the fans’ favourites with the crowd holding banners that read “DAVE SAVES” after he agreed a new deal with United, with his transfer breaking down with Real Madrid in the beginning of the season. United will be hoping Dave can save them at least one more time this season to avoid the humiliation of Leicester being crowned champions at their home turf.

Leicester City

Just one win away from securing the first league title in the club's 132-year history. Leicester need a minimum of three points to grant Claudio Ranieri’s side the title. If they were to win it, the Foxes could lift the trophy either at Old Trafford, at their home turf in front of their fans at the King Power Stadium when they take on Everton, or at last season’s champions Chelsea when they travel to Stamford Bridge on the final day. Certainly tricky last few games, but I have no doubt that Leicester will be crowned as the best team in England come the end of May. If any team deserves the title, it’s them. They’ve been on top of the table for as long as I can remember and have given the other sides no chance to overtake them, with Ranieri’s side losing just three times all season. 

The Foxes are now on a nine-game unbeaten run which has seen them keep seven clean sheets. Leicester will go to Old Trafford without their top scorer Jamie Vardy, who will be given a one-match ban for improper conduct for his angry reaction to a red card against West Ham a fortnight ago. In Vardy’s absence, a Riyad Mahrez-inspired Leicester battered Swansea 4-0 at the King Power Stadium, which encouraged the fans to sing on “4-0 to the one man team. Barcelona, WE ARE COMING FOR YOU!” High hopes, of course, but if they could carry their belief and fighting spirit into next season’s Champions League, they could stand a chance against Europe’s elite sides. But for now, it’s United that stand in their way of glory. The first time these sides met this season marked a special night for Leicester fans, when Vardy broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s goal-scoring record by scoring in 11 consecutive games in the league. 

Along with Vardy, the Foxes possess three other players in the PFA Team of the Year, with Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and club captain Wes Morgan making the cut. Mahrez has been the standout player of the year which has seen him deservedly be awarded with the PFA Player of the Year. Mahrez became the first African player to win the precious award beating the likes of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure before him. He has a sweet left foot in his arsenal, with the ability to break down the strongest defences in Europe with his masterclass trickery. Without Vardy, do Leicester have the key that can unlock United’s stubborn defence? The world sure hopes so.

Probable line-ups:

Manchester United: 4-5-1
De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Fellaini, Lingard, Rooney, Martial; Rashford

Leicester City 4-4-1-1
Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kante, Schlupp; Okazaki; Ulloa

Betting Verdict: Draw (23/10)
When these sides first met in the league this season, it was to break a goal-scoring record, now it is for the title. What a year it has been for Leicester, who are now just three points away from bragging rights over the rest of England. The reverse fixture ended in a 1-1 draw at the Foxes’ den. With both defences showing no signs of weaknesses recently, this is certainly going to be a cagey affair. My first option would be to back the Under 2.5 Goals market at 7/10. But for more value, take the draw. Only the brave could separate these two.

Written by Jesse Nagel