It’s match-day six in the Premier League and Mourinho’s Manchester United will host the Champions at Old Trafford in an early kick off on Saturday.
After a 3-1 win against Northampton Town in the league cup following 3 successive defeats in all competitions for United, it’s an opportunity to put their woes behind them and prove August was after all, not another false dawn. With three wins and two defeats in five games, Mourinho should be feeling the pressure after seeing the flawless start to life in the other half of Manchester by Pep Guardiola. The Portuguese was particularly bullish in his press conference after the league cup win, where he dismissed his critics after putting all the three defeats down to refereeing mishaps that were supposedly out of his control, but with the next three games at Old Trafford, he cannot afford any more slip-ups, especially ahead of a very interesting and significant October.
It has been a good start for Leicester City, considering the amount of football their relatively small squad is involved in – including the Champions League. They come off the back of a tough defeat to Chelsea in extra time in the EFL cup but their most recent outing in the league has been successful in the form of a 3-0 win against Burnley, with new signing Slimani scoring a brace in his debut. In the same fixture last year that was played in May, the Foxes played out an impressive 1-1 draw which was then enough for them to win a historic Premier League title and it is expected to live up to all the hype surrounding it, as it always does, when two great managers in Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho face each other.
For Manchester United, Anthony Martial will need a late fitness test following his concussion in the loss against Watford while Luke Shaw will not start as a precautionary measure. Phil Jones is still sidelined after the thigh injury he suffered in training two weeks ago while Mkhitaryan is said to be a doubt too ahead of Saturday’s fixture.
Leicester City could be without Kasper Schmeichel after the goalkeeper suffered a muscle strain in training and defender Wasilewski is suspended for this game after his red card against Chelsea in midweek.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in seven home league games against Leicester, whose only win in their 18 most recent trips to Old Trafford came in January 1998 courtesy of a Tony Cottee winner.
- The Foxes have gone four successive away matches without a win in the league. They could lose three away games in a row for the first time since December 2014
- United have covered 526.6km, less ground than any other team in the Premier League so far this season.
- Claudio Ranieri has not lost any of his last four meetings against a team led by Jose Mourinho (W2, D2).
Paul Pogba – Manchester United
It’s natural for someone that is the subject of an expensive transfer, to try and justify the move, and fail initially. This has been the case for Pogba, who after an impressive home debut against Southampton, tailed off in the next few games, coming under considerable criticism from the media and some fans alike. But Jose Mourinho has been very protective of the Frenchman in his post match pressers and his reverting to a 4-3-3 formation that is known to favour the 23-year old in his time at Juventus, all eyes will be on Pogba to show why United were willing to spend that much to bring him back to England.
Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City
Another ex-Manchester United midfielder who is, ironically, linked with his former club in the last couple of days, is Danny Drinkwater. After leaving his boyhood club in 2012, he’s gone from strength to strength and after last year’s role in Leicester’s remarkable achievement, Drinkwater has risen to a level now that he is considered to be one of the best in his position in the Premier League. His relentless work ethic and slick passing have been integral to the success of Ranieri’s style of football – and it will be fascinating to see if he can come out on top against another United academy product in Paul Pogba in the middle of the park.
It is going to an engrossing encounter – with United under pressure to score first and kick on from there as Leicester might not be pressing for a win from the word go. Expect them to shade this, nonetheless.