The top two in the Premier League meet in a massively intriguing encounter as Leicester City look to retain their far from expected residence at the summit with a win over Manchester United.
After Claudio Ranieri was appointed in the summer, the Foxes were earmarked as serious relegation candidates, so to find themselves leading the way after 13 games is nothing short of remarkable. Although Riyad Mahrez and free-scoring Jamie Vardy have received most of the plaudits, the whole team deserves immense credit for what they are achieving, which is largely due to the palpable sense of team spirit that emanates from the club.
Vardy has the chance here to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record as he aims to score in an 11th match in a row. He drew level with the Dutchman at Newcastle United last time out with a finish that oozed confidence in what was a dominant performance from start to finish. As well as the clean sheet, what will have pleased Ranieri as that two more of his strikers were able to find the net to provide the crowning glory on a highly convincing victory.
While Newcastle’s defence is frail and porous, the Man Utd backline is considerable tougher to penetrate. The penalty they conceded last weekend at Watford is the only goal they have let in since they drew away to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League over a month ago, and such defiance has played a huge part in lifting them to second in the table. For all of the criticism they are receiving, United keep getting results and they may bring reward in the times ahead.
This game represents such a contrast of styles, with United under Louis van Gaal known for playing a patient and possession based style while Leicester like to soak up pressure and break forward with pace, not wasting any time in putting dangerous crosses into the opposition penalty area. It will fascinating to see which one wins out, but there is no question that the hosts are the more entertaining to watch, a fact that will only continue to irk United supporters who were again disgruntled by a midweek stalemate against PSV Eindhoven.
There are new injuries worries for Leicester, with Matt James their only player out of action with a long-term knee injury.
Man Utd still have several players out including Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia. This game is also likely to come too soon for Michael Carrick.
Last Meeting: This fixture was one of the most memorable of last season, with Leicester coming from 3-1 behind in the second half to regiaster a sensational 5-3 success. Robin van Persie’s deflected header and Angel Di Maria’s sumptuous finish gave United a 2-0 lead before Leonardo Ulloa quickly pulled one back, but Ander Herrera’s second half strike looked to have put the game beyond doubt. But the amazing comeback began with a David Nugent penalty, with Esteban Cambiasso scoring smartly two minutes later to level the game. Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead and then won a spot-kick which earned Tyler Blackett a red card, with Ulloa converting from 12 yards.