Football Features

Man Utd vs Leicester: team news, predictions and expected lineups

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 11:09, 10 May 2021

Manchester United will play their second game in 48 hours when they host Leicester City in the Premier League on Tuesday.

The match will see the two sides face each other for the first time since the Foxes knocked United out in the FA Cup quarter-final with a 3-1 win at the King Power stadium. Revenge will be on the mind of the Red Devils but also they know that the packed fixture list will make it hard.

We’ve come up with five predictions for the game:

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1. Predicted Man Utd XI

Manchester United have a fixture pile-up this midweek, with the Red Devils having to play four games in eight days. That is a mammoth task and as Leicester is the third of those games, you can expect to see some rotation from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Dean Henderson will continue in goal while in defence, Eric Bailly will be forced to come in for the injured Harry Maguire who might be out for “a few weeks” after picking up an ankle injury in the win over Aston Villa, according to his manager.

The full-backs will rotate with Alex Telles and Brandon Williams giving Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka much-needed rest. Also in for a rest will be Scott McTominay and Fred, with Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek likely to take over.

With Anthony Martial and Dan James out injured, United don’t really have the depth to rotate up-front, so expect Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to retain their starting spots. Edinson Cavani is likely to come in to start with Juan Mata making up the attack as Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford get some much-needed rest.

2. Predicted Leicester XI

Having last played on Friday, Leicester will have little reason to change anything even though their last game was a shock home defeat to Newcastle. So you can expect to see Kasper Schmeichel behind a back three of Caglar Soyuncu, Wesley Fofana and Daniel Amartey, with Jonny Evans unlikely to be risked after pulling up injured in the warm-up against Newcastle.

The one change they make should see Luke Thomas come back in for Marc Albrighton at left wing-back. Then Ricardo Pereira, Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi will complete the rest of the midfield; with James Maddison just ahead of them.

Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho will again lead the line and Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his go-to strike partnership can deliver the goals needed to pick up a huge win.

3. United’s “impossible” task leads to a fast start

Manchester United played Roma in Rome on Thursday, then Aston Villa in Birmingham on Sunday. On Thursday they play Liverpool at home but before then, on Tuesday, they’re hosting Leicester.

“Two games in three days, or three games in five is very, very difficult,” said Solskjaer after the Roma win. “Four in eight is impossible.” And United will attempt to complete that impossible task with a fast start.

United’s tendency this season is to go behind and roar back to victory in the second-half, but with the compressed schedule Solskjaer will want to avoid having the game be in play for that full 90 so will have his team come flying out of the traps.

United have won their last four home games and Solskjaer will hope to ride that momentum. And with Cavani and Greenwood (the youngster has four goals in his last four games at Old Trafford) in good form, the Red Devils will get the fast start they desire and go 1-0 up for just the 14th time this season (they’ve already gone 0-1 down 14 times).

4. “Shift and Shoot” King Kelechi to kill United again

Since the start of March, only one striker has more goals across Europe’s top five leagues than Kelechi Iheanacho. Swiy Nwankwo has 12 goals for Crotone, just two more than Iheanacho’s 10 for Leicester.

Iheanacho’s prowess has become so noted already that Ally McCoist used his example to berate Timo Werner midweek. ““I can see him thinking about that chance,” McCoist said of Werner, “whereas Iheanacho doesn’t think about it, if he’s on a run. Iheanacho just comes in and doesn’t think about it.”

There’s no doubt that the Nigerian is a man in form right now. He’s playing so supremely that it’s not even a surprise that goals are flowing. “Kele is incredibly intelligent when it comes to his finishing. He knows how to shift and shoot so quickly,” said team-mate Kasper Schmeichel while pundit Karen Carney points out that Iheanacho’s confidence is down to the fact that “he knows when he plays he’s not going to get substituted for Jamie Vardy.” Now he’s Vardy’s partner “he’s confident and that one goal turns into two and three.”

It was Iheanacho who scored twice and set-up the other as Leicester beat Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final, and you can expect the Nigerian to dominate and get himself on the scoresheet once at the very least.

5. No Maguire, no party (except for City)

Manchester United lost 3-2 to Roma, albeit they were playing with a 6-2 first-leg lead. They then wet to Aston Villa and won 3-1. They’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last five games, a lifeless draw with Leeds, but even that defensive record has owed so much to Harry Maguire.

The United captain tops the rankings for several defensive metrics; including aerial duels won, blocks and clearances (he is also joint-first for interceptions along with Wan-Bissaka). It’s not an exaggeration to say he carries the heart of the defence, especially as his partners are not reliable for one reason or another.

There’s Victor Lindelof, who lacks pace and can be dominated in the air, he’s also a bit soft when pushing up to contest challenges. And then there’s Eric Bailly, who can often look superior to Maguire and has more natural defensive talent than even the United skipper but who is also an erratic figure capable of big mistakes and, moreover, is injury-prone.

With Maguire out injured, however, United will have to rely on both of them to start and against a red hot Iheanacho and the full force of Rodgers’ brilliant Leicester side. And with the Red Devils in the midst of a brutal run of fixtures, with the derby against Liverpool just 48 hours after this game, you can expect United to suffer their fifth home defeat of the season and hand the Premier League to Manchester City.

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