At this stage of last season, both Manchester United and Leicester City were in the top four of the Premier League. There has been a decline for both clubs, as the former now battle to get back in the top four and the latter are focused on their European exploits to remain in continental competition. It speaks volumes about the Foxes’ struggles that Brendan Rodgers isn’t seen as a contender for the vacant United job. He would have been considered for the post if it had been available last year. This is a more important game for the home side, as they need to be near perfect to finish above Arsenal and Tottenham.
Manchester United are in 6th position and trail Arsenal by four points. To make matters more complicated, the Gunners have a game in hand on Ralf Rangnick’s men. This means the margin for error is tiny at Old Trafford. Ideally, they need to win all of their remaining matches. The key game is their match against Arsenal, but they need to make sure they stay in touching distance until that point. It will be another summer rebuild for the club with the appointment of the next head coach crucial. Erik ten Hag seems to be the frontrunner, but finishing in the top four is important for the club to ensure the transition is an easier one.
Leicester City have had a golden era in the club’s history. Their Premier League triumph will be remembered for decades to come, but the consistency to compete towards the upper echelons of the league has been equally impressive. Rodgers was unlucky not to finish in the top four in either of the last two seasons. At some point, a drop-off was inevitable, but if the Foxes manage to win the Europa Conference League, it will salvage a disappointing campaign. It will be understandable for the club to take one eye off the Premier League and that could be the case on Saturday. Mid table is inevitable regardless of how they perform, therefore Rodgers may choose to play a weakened team on Saturday.
- Manchester United have players that can make an impact from the bench. No team has had more goals scored by substitutes than them, with ten.
- Leicester have won the last three meetings with Manchester United. They have never beaten them four matches in a row.
After an adjustment period, Bruno Fernandes is starting to emerge as the most important player at Old Trafford once again. Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence does monopolise the attack in his favour, but Fernandes has managed to find form in spite of his international team-mate. He has been the better performer for United in 2022 and during the international break, he scored a brace to send Portugal to the World Cup. For a player that likes to be at the fulcrum of an attack, it has been difficult for the midfielder to thrive alongside Ronaldo at club and international level. In recent weeks, there have been signs of an improving on-pitch dynamic between the pair and that should lead to a strong finish to the season for Fernandes. This season, he has contributed nine goals and six assists in the Premier League. It isn’t set to be his best season in the Premier League, but he has continued to be one of the best players in the division. Unlike his international team-mate, Fernandes needs to be front and centre of the rebuild at Old Trafford.
During the summer, James Maddison was linked with a move to Arsenal. However, he stayed at Leicester and he has had a mixed season. A strong finish to the campaign could see him emerge on the radar of top six teams once again. At the age of 25, he is reaching an important period of his career, as he will have ambitions to play at the highest level. His England hopes have taken a back seat during the last 12 months and he seems further from Gareth Southgate’s thoughts than ever before. This is despite some great form in the Premier League, in particular, his improved goal threat. Maddison has eight goals and three assists this season. He has become a lot more direct and he is one goal away from beating his previous best return in a Premier League season. Maddison will want to get to ten. This weekend offers an opportunity for him to show his ability in a big game. Manchester United’s lack of a defensive midfielder means there will be a chance for him to play an influential role in the game.
Manchester United don’t have many injury concerns heading into this weekend. Edinson Cavani is a doubt, but Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho will be well rested after sitting out of England duty. Both have a point to prove ahead of the World Cup and that could benefit their club.
Marc Albrighton, Wesley Fofana and Luke Thomas are all doubts for this weekend. It is likely to come too soon for Jamie Vardy, who should be back in action soon. Wilfred Ndidi has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Leicester have a good recent record against Manchester United. However, they have little to play for and there will be one eye on their Europa Conference League quarter final first leg against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday. That should give Manchester United an excellent chance to put pressure on the two teams above them in the race for a top four finish. After a long break from the Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid, United have a point to prove and their supporters will be expecting a reaction. They should get three points on Saturday.
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City