LINE: Leicester +185| Draw +265 | Manchester United +135
WHEN: Saturday, December 26th @ 07:30am EST
WATCH: NBC Sports / Peacock
Having won 6 out of their last 7 Premier League games, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are in touching distance of the top spot. But to turn a genuine title challenge from a dream to reality, United need to overwhelm the team directly above them in the league standings. Leicester City are flying high early in the campaign & seem to be at their devastating best.
The Red Devils have won their last 10 away games in the league. Leicester have defeated every ‘big side’ in the league (barring Liverpool) this season. A thrilling contest beckons at the King Power Stadium, winning which could help United start making believers of their ambitious title challenge.
Leicester City Likely XI
Schmeichel, Justin, Fofana, Evans, Castagne, Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison, Albrighton, Barnes, Vardy
Ricardo Pereira remains the only injury absentee for Leicester.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
Scott McTominay suffered a slight injury after his masterclass against Leeds, but should be fine for the Leicester trip. As should Luke Shaw after being subbed in the hour-mark.
Leicester City vs Manchester United preview
A LOT has changed since United & Leicester last met, when the Red Devils defeated the Foxes to book a place in the Champions League! United have since been eliminated from the UCL, while Leicester have bounced back strongly from that horrific end to the season.
One thing which has remained the same, however, is both sides fighting for a top spot in the league. With Liverpool showing no signs of slowing down, none of these two can drop points anymore if they’re to keep up with the defending champions.
While the Red Devils have won all their away league games this season, that perfect record is in grave danger of being snapped. Coming off the win against Tottenham, Leicester are brimming with confidence and have developed this fearless attitude to take the fight to any side. OGS must set up his side properly or risk a hammering on Boxing Day.
Solskjaer has loved to tinker around with his squad this season, but it’d be ridiculous to make changes after that Leeds drubbing, even if it means keeping Paul Pogba benched. Leicester are a very attack-minded side, so having the graft & energy from Fred & the high-flying McTominay will help to keep United match the hosts’ intensity.
Irrespective of whatever happens, Ole will rely upon Bruno Fernandes to bring the goods again. The Portuguese midfielder tormented Leeds with his excellent attacking display & has been on song away from home. He’ll have the gritty Wilfred Ndidi tracking him, but Bruno’s excellent off-the-ball movement, tendency to sneak into scoring areas & bright vision to create chances will be key to winning that battle.
Marcus Rashford also looks brimming with confidence & positivity. His pace & penetration through the left-wing will be crucial in orchestrating dangerous fast-breaks and causing Leicester all kinds of problems. Like Rashford, Anthony Martial is also a confident man operating more like a natural striker. With his tendency to create chances & get behind defenders, Anthony just needs to be more clinical to get back among the goals.
While United’s frontline is evidently capable of tormenting teams on the break, they’ll rely on the backline to stay strong for OGS’ side to stay in the game. Leicester’s attack is more potent than the last time these two sides met, with the brilliant James Maddison back in his best.
The Englishman was reportedly wanted by United in the summer and will look to prove why. With his fantastic ability to play in the hole in midfield, eye for picking out the creative pass & stunning long-range capability, he can run riot in the final third. Moreover, Maddison has his partner-in-crime Jamie Vardy to deliver his passes to score.
Vardy shows no signs of stopping from being a goal machine. With his pace, ability to slot into all the right scoring areas & hard-working nature, he can his former teammate Harry Maguire a nightmare. Apart from these two, the creative Youri Tielemans, tenacious Harvey Barnes and Leicester’s dangerous wing-backs James Justin & Timothy Castagne add to their dynamic attacking style.
The Red Devils have to be much better than they were against Leeds. They can’t afford the hosts any space & every player must work hard to eradicate their threat. Victor Lindelof & Harry Maguire seem very comfortable at the back, but they need to maintain a solid defensive line a& dictate their full-backs cleverly to stop crosses from coming into the area.
United might be riding into this game with a wave of momentum, but they have to match their intensity from the last game. They must start on the front-foot, go toe-to-toe with Leicester in every aspect and be more ruthless in finishing off their chances to maintain their fantastic away form.
Leicester are yet to draw a PL game this season. United are yet to drop points on the road. I think both these records will be broken on Boxing day & the teams will cancel each other out in a thrilling 2-2 draw.