Manchester United dropped points at the King Power Stadium after leading twice in the contest with Leicester City. Goals from Marcus Rashford and United top scorer Bruno Fernandes were not enough to see off the Foxes. So, let’s look at five things we learned from this encounter with Leicester City.
1. Dropped points because of unnecessary rotation?
United’s run of consecutive away wins came to a halt against Leicester. Pogba, Cavani, Greenwood and van de Beek were the big names on the bench. Scott McTominay and Daniel James retained their places from last weeks victory over Leeds and this was a decision that would later haunt Solskjaer.
McTominay did not close down Barnes quick enough for the first goal and did not impact the tempo of the game in any manner. The other surprise omission was that of Axel Tuanzebe, who had a superb cameo in the midweek win over Everton. Victor Lindelöf began in his less preferred right-back role instead of the young English defender. Tuanzebe did come on after Lindelöf further aggravated his back injury. Rotation was unnecessary in this fixture and was a catalyst in United dropping points. The result will heap pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men as they encounter a tough run of fixtures going into the new year.
2. Rashford’s big misses cost United the three points against Leicester
Marcus Rashford, who has been in excellent form in recent weeks, had a poor game for his standards. The Englishman should have put the Red Devils ahead in the first minute of the game. Fernandes swung in an inviting cross and Rashford, who was unmarked skied the header from yards out. He did make up for the miss as he put United one-up with a cool finish past the Leicester goalkeeper.
Evidently, Rashford’s poor finishing was again on display in the second half. The Englishman found himself one on one against Kasper Schmeichel but failed to hit the back of the net again. Although the Danish keeper’s save was nothing short of magnificent, Solskjaer will be furious with Rashford for not hitting the back of the net. These misses have shown the need for United to bring in a natural number nine in Edison Cavani and how the two differ significantly. In United’s next league encounter against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rashford will likely start but it is imperative that Cavani does as well.
3. Fernandes – the good, the bad and the ugly
The Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes has had a scintillating impact at Manchester United. This game was no different and Fernandes’ playmaking skills were on display in the first minute as he put the ball on a plate for Marcus Rashford. Later in the half, Fernandes set up Rashford again and this time the efforts of the Portuguese man were not wasted.
During his time at United, Fernandes has rarely cost United. However, the United playmaker was largely at fault for a Leicester goal. Bruno gave the ball away cheaply in his own half and Barnes went onto score. This is something Paul Pogba has been criticised for before and Fernandes should also receive the same treatment. Unlike Pogba, Fernandes went on to rectify his mistake by giving United the lead with an expert finish.
Although Bruno does his best to stop United from dropping points he almost cost United in the bigger picture. Next week United face Midlands clubs Wolves and Aston Villa and will need to have Bruno Fernandes available for selection. However, on multiple occasions against Leicester, Fernandes almost got sent off. Fernandes escaped with a second yellow and will therefore be able to play in both matches next week.
4. Defensive blunders from United means more points dropped against Leicester
Week in week out United fans are left crying out for a new central defender. The current backline is incapable of securing a clean sheet in consecutive games. Moreover, the current crop of defenders seem like they have a defensive error in them every game. Whether this is down to a lack of confidence or an inconsistent starting backline, Solskjaer must find a solution. As, their lack of confidence is also transferring to under-pressure David de Gea.
De Gea looked shaky throughout the contest and the defence looked far from convincing. Injuries to Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelöf has heightened the need for defensive cover in January. Manchester United find themselves closest to Liverpool in the title race at this current time. But, Solskjaer must reinforce United’s leaky defence to prevent them from dropping points and dropping out of the title race completely. This season has been unusual and a drop in form can see you transition from title challengers to top four challenges within a matter of weeks.
5. Super-sub Cavani strikes again
Cavani, left out of the starting eleven, came off the bench to have a significant impact again for the Red Devils. The Uruguayan only had a few touches of the ball but gave Fernandes the opportunity to make it 2-1 to United with an exquisite pass. The elite striker is lightyears ahead of the current crop of United forwards in terms of final product. Mason Greenwood is the only forward that can compete with him in the finishing department, but at this current time the youngster is out of form. Cavani will not be able to start every game but will be ready to make an impact when needed. Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not hesitate on calling upon Cavani if needed in the two crucial fixtures against Wolves and Villa.