Not many would have predicted that this would be a top of the table clash, but this is what it has come to following Leicester City’s fabulous start to the season. Separated by just one point, Leicester City host United at the King Power Stadium, where they have lost only once in the league this season.
At the start of the campaign, Leicester were one of the favourites to get relegated. Nigel Pearson, who managed to keep the club in the top division under unbelievable circumstances, had left the club in the summer to be replaced by Claudio Ranieri. The Italian, coming on the back of a disappointing spell with Greece, does not have a great experience when it comes to relegation scraps.
Vardy’s Hollywood Story
Yet, this has turned out to be more than just a scrapping business this season. Propelled by the amazing Jamie Vardy, the club are unbeaten in the last six league games. Vardy is on the verge of breaking a record ironically set by a former United great, Ruud van Nistelrooy. Just a decade ago, Vardy was in nonleague football seemingly destined for the lower levels of the league. He now leads the Premier League goalscoring charts with 13.
United Drawing Blank
His form will undoubtedly be a major concern for United, who could certainly do with a forward like Vardy right now. The Red Devils, whose attacking prowess under Van Gaal has been criticised more than once, drew yet another blank in the midweek Champions League action. United have scored more than two goals in a game only once since the start of November. Van Gaal had to face tough questions regarding the ‘defensive tactics,’ but he is unlikely to be worried about United having an opportunity to go top by the end of this weekend.
“If we weren’t creating chances I’d be worried, but we are, and we don’t give too much away – normally our results are good. That is why we are second in the league and our Champions League group,” said Van Gaal.
For United, this fixture will also evoke memories of the 5-3 defeat last season and walking away with three points from the match will be higher on the priority list of the Dutch boss than taking revenge. After struggling in the debut campaign, Van Gaal will be more than happy with the progress his team has made towards the Premier League title this season.
- Louis van Gaal’s side have won 10 of the last 11 league games between two teams, but Leicester stunned Manchester United 5-3 at King’s Power Stadium last season.
- The two sides faced each other with exactly same rankings at Filbert Street in October 2000 when Leicester were enjoying at the top of the Premier League while and Manchester United were a spot behind. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team won the match 3-0 and went on to clinch the title while the Foxes finished 13th.
- On Saturday, Leicester will be searching fifth consecutive Premier League victory.
- Jamie Vardy will also be aiming to set a new record in English top flight for scoring in consecutive appearances. He is currently tied with Ruud van Nistelrooy on 10 in a row.
- Last season, Claudio Ranieri’s side were reeling at the bottom of the table after 13 games.
- The Foxes are currently Premier League’s leading scorers with 28 goals. They are the only team to have scored in every game this season.
- Red Devils have lost only once in their last nine Premier League games (W6, D2).
- The only goal United have conceded in their last seven league matches came from the penalty spot.
- With a conceding average of 0.69 goals per game, Manchester United’s defence is best in the league thus far.
Two of the major absentees for United are Phil Jones and Ander Herrera. United were hoping to get them back after they missed the victory over Watford last week. However, they continue to remain on the sidelines just like Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, and Luke Shaw.
Leicester City have no major injury worries aside from the absence of Matty James. The midfielder is yet to feature this season.
Managers have been divided about Leicester City’s ability to challenge for the title. Ranieri, though, appears to be taking each game as it comes.
“It’s the big match of the Premier League this week. We are top of the league and at this moment we deserve this. For us, it’s another match to see how we have to improve,” said Ranieri.