25 Aug, 18:15
Date: Saturday, August 26
Stadium: Old Trafford, Stretford
Kick-off: 7:30 PM
Manchester United welcome 2016 Premier League champions Leicester City at Old Trafford in what is set to be the toughest test yet for Mourinho’s trail-blazing squad.
Both teams have registered positive results in their first two matches of the season, though United were undoubtedly the more dominant side as they saw off both West Ham and Swansea via emphatic 4-0 victories. Leicester on the other hand suffered a disheartening 4-3 defeat to Arsenal before bouncing back to wallop newcomers Brighton 2-0.
The following are the teams’ forms in their last six immediate fixtures:
Man United - W W L W W L
Leicester - W W L W L L
Of the three meetings between the two sides last season, United emerged tops every time, with 2-1, 4-1, and 3-0 wins respectively, the first being the Community Shield final where boss Jose Mourinho clinched his first piece of silverware soon after signing on with the English giants.
United’s offense v Leicester’s defense
The deciding factor in the match is likely to be how United versatile’s offense will match up against Leicester’s troubled defense. Since the addition of forward Romelu Lukaku and defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic, the Special One’s frontline has been clicking on all cylinders as the fast-rising Pog6-Luk9 connection have time and time again spelt doom on their opponents’ defense.
The acquisition of Matic has subsequently freed up Pogba to take up a more offensive role as opposed to last season, where the £89.3m-man was moved around aimlessly in the midfield by Mourinho. Playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has also been on a tear as the midfielder has already registered four assists, making United all the more dangerous.
On the other hand, the Foxes’ defense has proved to be their Achilles’ heel this season after Craig Shakespeare’s men lost a 3-1 lead over Arsenal and thereafter conceded another three goals to lose a match that they clearly had won before their momentary lapses in concentration. Should Leicester make the same mistake against a formidable Manchester attack, then this match is likely to turn into a goal fest at their expense.
Man United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Bailly, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Lukaku.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy.
This is expected to be a gruelling fixture because both sides boast of seasoned squads with the necessary mental fortitude to win tough matches. Forwards Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy are capable of finding the back of the net at any time - a development which negatively affects United’s chances of keeping another clean sheet.
I will however give the edge and thus the win to United on account of their lethal offense and equally formidable defense. Expect both teams to score in this ultra-competitive fixture.