Manchester United vs Leicester City
Saturday 24th August
5:30pm Kick Off
So early on, is this going to be Leicester’s toughest task so far? Most would say yes. But in reality, after scoring five goals in our first two Premier League games, three of those coming away at Arsenal on the opening day, I feel that Leicester could make life hard at the Theatre of Dreams.
Manchester United, a new look United at that, have so far this season been the team to beat even at this early stage. Scoring eight goals and conceding none in their opening two suggest Jose Mourinho’s men are not waiting around this season, to claim what would be their 14th title since 1992.
With the additions of Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof to the squad, Manchester United are starting to look the real deal. In my opinion, the Red Devils have lacked a real spine over the years, especially defensively. We remember the days of the Vidic and Ferdinand centre-back partnership, with the maestro Paul Scholes in front of them pinging 70-yard balls I could only hope of completing.
But it looks as if Mourinho has sorted that area of the team out, and United are not to be taken lightly in their bid for end of season glory.
Leicester so far this season have looked like the team that won the league two years ago.
They come off the back of a 4-1 victory away at Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup second round, with Islam Slimani causing Craig Shakespeare a selection headache after his well-taken brace. Demarai Gray also caught the eye, with a goal to his name.
Looking at the stats for this upcoming match, and Leicester haven’t beaten Manchester United since 2014 (six games), where Esteban Cambiasso was the architect in a superb victory at the King Power Stadium.
Since then, as mentioned above, Man Utd love playing the Foxes.
In their last six games unbeaten against the Foxes in all competitions, the Red Devils have scored 14, only conceding five.
Funnily enough, those five goals have all come at a ratio of one goal per match.
Last six match results:
(2017 top two, 2016 middle two, 2015 bottom two)
Leicester City 0 – 3 Manchester United
Manchester United 4 – 1 Leicester City
Leicester City 1 – 2 Manchester United
Manchester United 1 – 1 Leicester City
Leicester City 1 – 1 Manchester United
Manchester United 3 – 1 Leicester City
That’s grim reading for me I can assure you…
One stat I looked at closely was when these teams tend to score their goals, because of how offensively good these sides have been so far this season.
Five of Manchester United’s eight goals in the league have come in the final 15 minutes of the match.
Two against West Ham (87′ & 90′), three against Swansea City (81′, 82′ & 84′).
Overall, 75% of United’s goals (six goals) have come in the second half.
Could this imply that United are slow starters? Can Leicester take advantage?
Well, according to the stats, 60% of Leicester goals (three goals) have come in the first half.
More specifically, those three goals have all been scored before the 30th minute, two of them coming within the first 15 minutes.
So, the answer to my question seems to be yes. But as we all know, Manchester United at Old Trafford are a different demon all together.
However, the real question is, can the home side carry on their good start to the season throughout August?
The past three seasons now, including this one, United have won both their opening games but didn’t manage to carry on that form for long.
Last season, they won their opening three but then lost to arch rivals Manchester City.
The season before that, they did win their opening two, but then drew 0-0 at home to Newcastle, following that up with a 2-1 defeat away at Swansea.
This game on paper points to a comfortable United win.
Every stat goes against Leicester in recent times; it will be a tough ask for Leicester to take anything away from Old Trafford.
I do think Leicester will score, potentially from a set-piece. We all remember Wes Morgan’s equaliser in the title-winning season, right?
Even so, I still believe that Manchester United, with all their big guns firing, will be too hot to handle come Saturday evening, and will ultimately get the three points.
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City.