Manchester United v Leicester: Both sides can oblige at Old Trafford
A mouthwatering Premier League match-up arrives from Old Trafford on Tuesday night as Manchester United meet Leicester. Mark O'Haire picks out his favourite fancy.
United cement top-four finish
Manchester United guaranteed a Premier League top-four finish as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park on Sunday. Having sealed their place in the Europa League final on Thursday, second-half goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and substitute Edinson Cavani capped a solid week's work for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.
Bertrand Traore's emphatic finish put the Red Devils on the back foot. But United levelled shortly after the restart with a Fernandes penalty, and Greenwood completed a four-minute turnaround with a low strike. The visitors successfully resisted late Villa pressure despite the loss of captain Harry Maguire, before Cavani confirmed victory in the closing stages.
With an exhausting short-term schedule to navigate, Solskjaer made four changes for his side's second fixture in a run of four in eight days. And having secured Champions League football for next season, the United boss could again look to rest and rotate his troops his with Thursday night's showdown against old rivals Liverpool potentially taking precedence.
Leicester humbled at home
Leicester's hopes of sealing a top-four finish suffered a major blow as the Foxes fell to a shock 4-2 loss at home to Newcastle last Friday. Brendan Rodgers' boys were 4-0 down before rallying late on, and the City supremo was understandably irked by his team's performance, blaming a lack of concentration in his defence for the damaging defeat.
Caglar Soyuncu was culpable for Joe Willock's opener, Timothy Castagne made a mistake for the third goal, whilst Wesley Fofana lost Callum Wilson for the fourth. That Leicester trio made up the back three with Jonny Evans ruled out through injury just before kick-off, and the Northern Irishman's absence was noticeable in the lack of organisation at the back.
With Evans ruled out of Tuesday's tussle, Rodgers must reshuffle his backline to avoid another defensive disaster. Meanwhile, there are question marks over the fitness of James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira following the duos returns from long injury layoffs; the pair look likely to drop down to the bench here with Ayoze Perez and Luke Thomas recalled.
Rotating Red Devils could fall short
Man Utd come into this contest unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League matches against Leicester (W8-D4-L0) since a 5-3 reverse back in September 2014. Old Trafford has proven particularly problematic for the Foxes, with the visitors tabling a sole success in their past 22 top-flight trips here (W1-D5-L16), that triumph arriving back in the 1997/98 campaign.
Man Utd 2.60 made a forgettable start to the 2020/21 season but have now suffered just one loss in 28 Premier League outings (W18-D9-L1) with the Red Devils boasting a W9-D2-L1 return in that time at Old Trafford. That includes four successive victories here, although the hosts have posted only W2-D3-L2 when welcoming top-half teams.
Leicester 3.10 have been in the running for a top-four finish all season but Brendan Rodgers' side have just started to wobble. The Foxes have three losses in their last six encounters (W2-D1-L3) despite being marked up as strong favourites in five of those fixtures. Nevertheless, City own a strong W10-D5-L2 road record, scoring in 15/17 away days.
Goals on the agenda
Both Man Utd and Leicester are delivering an average 3.03 goals per-game across their Premier League match-ups this term, a joint-high along with Southampton. The two teams have also posted around a 60% success-rate for Over 2.5 Goals 2.10 selections, with positive returns also produced when dipping into the Both Teams To Score 1.83 column.
With United now secured in the top-four and potentially putting more emphasis on Thursday evening's fixture, a degree of rotation is expected, whilst a more expressive effort could be in order from the hosts. Leicester's aforementioned defensive woes will encourage the Red Devils and it's difficult to dismiss the home side getting on the scoresheet.
Nevertheless, Leicester are the league's most consistent for scoring on the road with the Foxes also bagging in 11 of their 15 duels with top-half rivals. Indeed, the reverse ended in an enjoyable 2-2 draw at the KP and a repeat could well be on the cards. Considering the circumstances, Both Teams To Score appeals at 1.83 quotes.
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