Two days after defeating Aston Villa in the Premier League, Manchester United faced off against top-4 hopefuls Leicester City at Old Trafford. The Red Devils ended up going down to a 1-2 loss after an understandably tired performance in a game they just didn’t seem to care about enough to win.
With the Liverpool game two days later, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded an extremely inexperienced reserves side that predictably fell behind in the 10th minute thanks to a brilliant goal from Lukas Thomas.
But that only seemed to rejuvenate the Red Devils – who bit back with an equalizer in the 15th-minute – when Mason Greenwood danced past multiple defenders to convert a sweet strike from close range. Despite their weakened state, United went toe-to-toe with Leicester for the remainder of the half and dominated 51% of the possession – even though no more goals were scored.
Leicester took control in the second half and made a tired United side pay for poor set-piece defending when Caglar Soyuncu rose the highest to score a thumping header in the 66th minute to make it 2-1. The Red Devils introduced some of the big guns to salvage a result – but were unable to do so.
This result means that Man City are now ‘officially’ PL champions. But it also further spices up the top-4 race – which still remains quite unpredictable and open-ended going into the final games of the campaign.
On another day with their strongest XI – United probably would’ve comfortably won this game. But with their prominent first-teamers well rested for the Liverpool game, they need a big performance on Thursday to more less seal a top-2 finish.
Manchester United player ratings vs Leicester
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (5.5)–
10(!) changes from the Villa game from Ole which feels like a bit of a ‘Screw You!’ to the PL for this horrible scheduling. Surprisingly, his reserve side put out a valiant effort in the first half before succumbing to the intensity in the second. His ‘big subs’ weren’t sharp enough to make a difference either and Ole himself didn’t look too bothered with getting a win – an attitude that his team also adapted.
He will probably learn a few things from this result – like which youngster/reserves to give more opportunities and which to move on. Has the majority of his strongest XI fully energized for the LFC clash and needs his side to produce a big performance then to make this result seem like a bad dream.
David de Gea (6.0) –
De Gea starts his first PL game since late February and was unable to do anything to stop Thomas’ powerful attempt. Doing his best to help his defenders by distributing the ball forward well. Forced into action in the 58th but stood up firmly to deny Iheancho from close range. Saw that go to waste with Soyuncu’s bullet header that Leicester the win. Couldn’t really do much more to change the result.
Brandon Williams (4.0) –
Brandon was caught napping and couldn’t do much to stop Thomas’ vicious strike. Making too many unforced errors which are complicating things on his side. Looked defensively shaky all game long and unable to produce anything similar to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Probably needs to be sent on loan next season.
Eric Bailly (4.5) –
Bailly is the most experienced defender in this set-up and has to act like a leader today. His distribution is just too scrappy and causing unnecessary problems. Couldn’t really maintain a strong enough defensive line and was caught out of position too many times. Invited trouble throughout the game and not as aggressive as he usually is either.
Axel Tuanzebe (6.5) –
Tuanzebe’s first PL start since the horrible loss to Sheffield United at home. Caught horribly out of position for Leicester’s opener. But recovered from the sloppy start pretty well – boasting impressively quick reactions and making some great tackles to stop a number of Leicester’s break.
Dealt with Iheanacho’s threat surprisingly well and apart from his poor passing – that was a pretty good performance from Axel considering the circumstances.
Alex Telles (5.5) –
United will be reliant upon Telles’ dangerous crosses in this one. Looks defensively vulnerable against Leicester’s pace. Some of his crosses were really dangerous – but his attempts mostly went wide or over. Made some clutch clearances to stop Leicester at their tracks but nothing special to warrant him more game-time ahead of Luke Shaw.
Nemanja Matic (6.5) –
Matic was run ragged the last time he faced Leicester and looks to redeem himself today. Acting like a real commander in midfield – protecting his defence well and showcasing surprise swagger carrying the ball forward. Should’ve done better for Soyuncu’s strike – allowing him to jump over him for the goal too easily.
While his intense pressing and tackling really helped United defensively, Matic’s occasional mistakes acted as taints in an otherwise solid display.
Donny van de Beek (6.0) –
Van de Beek has a point to prove to his manager today if he wants to start more games. A bit too overzealous with some of his passes but trying to maintain composure in midfield. Did well with keeping things simple in moving the ball forward and with his pressing – but unable to make a real difference in the result.
Juan Mata (5.0) –
Mata’s first PL start since the win over West Brom in November! Trying his best to create things with his deft passing. After a very quiet game, he burst into the box out of nowhere in the 83rd but unable to see his pass converted. That was really the only good thing he did in a lethargic performance.
Mason Greenwood (8.0) –
Greenwood might be the senior-most figure in United’s frontline today but that isn’t stopping him from causing chaos. Produced an extremely clinical finish for his equalizer, tricking past defenders before slotting a right-footed attempt into the bottom corner.
Tormented Leicester with his link-up play and hold-up play – while being a persistent threat on the swift-break. Taken off for Cavani after an efficient performance.
Anthony Elanga (6.0) –
The 19-year-old Swedish forward plays his FIRST-EVER game for the senior United side. Causing a few issues with his pace but still seems too overwhelmed by the situation. Made 19 forward sprints and worked hard – but just unable to create anything really special on his special day.
Amad Diallo (7.0) –
Diallo’s first start in the PL and he’s a lively figure with his rapid pressing. Did really well to outmuscle his defender and play in Greenwood for his goal. Creating some lovely stuff with his sweet first touch and trickery with the ball. Worked hard defensively too and helped play the ball out of some tight situations. An inspired debut that indicates we’ll be seeing much more of him next season.
Edinson Cavani (6.0) –
A day after signing a new one-year deal with United – Cavani looked a real lively figure upfront. Caused trouble with his movement but just not given enough quality delivery in the final third.
Marcus Rashford (5.0) –
Tried a bit too much with his dribbling run and wasted some chances with his sloppy final product towards the end.
Bruno Fernandes (N/R) –
Added more liveliness to United’s attack after coming on and got a decent scoring chance in the 83rd but his attempted volley went wide.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans ran the show with confidence today, providing an assist for the opener and creating many more. He’s the MOTM for today – even though United’s best player was definitely Greenwood.