|Image from Retro United|
Manchester United head into the final game of the Premier League season away to Leicester City with Champions League qualification in our own hands. Following our 1-1 draw against West Ham on Wednesday and Chelsea’s subsequent defeat to Liverpool, United are in third place in the league, meaning they are in contention to return to Europe’s elite competition, providing that they get the win or at least a draw from this game. This match will see everything go down to the wire as both teams look to finish above one another in the league.
The teams last met in the corresponding fixture in September at Old Trafford with United running out winners with a 1-0 victory through a Marcus Rashford penalty. Our record against Leicester City in the Premier League is quite good as we have won eighteen, drawn seven and lost only twice in the twenty-seven times we have played each other. United have not lost away to Leicester City since the 5-3 defeat back in September 2014.
Teams: Leicester City vs Manchester United
Date: July 26th 2020 (Sunday)
KO Time: 16:00 BST
Competition: Premier League
Stadium: King Power Stadium
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Brendan Rodgers
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed in the press conference that he will give both Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly as much time as possible in order to feature in the game against Leicester as they recover from their injuries. He told MUTV’s Stewart Gardner, “I’m not going to rule anything out.”. If Luke Shaw does not make the matchday squad or is only on the bench, then Brandon Williams will deputise at left back.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka who started on the bench for the game against West Ham is likely to return to the starting eleven as United should put out their strongest side. Besides Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones on the sidelines as well through injuries, United have a near full-strength squad to pick from.
Ole said, “You’d expect players to feel it towards the end of a season anyway. This season has been a strange one as everyone knows. We’ve had five weeks playing now and all teams have got issues whether it be mental or physical injury-wise.”
It will be interesting to see if Ole makes any changes to the team or formation from the game against West Ham in what has been described as a cup final for both United and Leicester. Ole added, “We’re in a very good position going into the last game even though I’m sure some of the players are feeling it but now is not the time to look for pains and aches. Now is the time to get 90 minutes in.”
As for Leicester City, they will be without a number of key players including James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, and defender Caglar Soyuncu who is suspended after picking up a red card in the game against Bournemouth.
Manchester United’s PL form: WWDWD
Leicester PL form: WDLWL
If Harry Maguire starts the game against Leicester City, then he would be the first player since Gary Pallister to have competed in every game of the league season since the 1994-95 season.
Luke Shaw scored his only United goal in the 2-1 home victory over the Foxes back in the 2018/19 season.
Juan Mata has scored three goals in four appearances against teams managed by Brendan Rodgers. He has also netted four in 10 games for United against the Foxes.
United have scored within the opening ten minutes in each of their last three Premier League games against Leicester.
Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (if fit), Matic, Pogba, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial
United will need to start quickly and get out the blocks to take advantage early on. They cannot start as slowly as they did in the previous games against West Ham and Chelsea. Leicester’s form in the league since it resumed has not been great, which will give United hope. Not only will United’s attack be the key but also the defence, who will need to stop Jamie Vardy from scoring.
There is a lot riding on going into the last game of the season for both clubs as we seek qualification to the Champions League. With Chelsea also in the mix, there are many different permutations on how qualification can be secured by United. A win or even a draw would guarantee a place in the top four.
You can liken this game to a boxing match as both teams will be looking to deliver a knockout blow to each other. I cannot see this game being played at a slow pace as both teams like to get on the front foot and attack. As we build up to this game, the nerves will kick in even more but United are more than capable of going to the King Power Stadium and getting the victory to finish third in the league and securing Champions League football for next season.
Prediction: Leicester 1-2 Manchester United