Manchester United will be looking to bounce back from their shock midweek elimination from the Carabao Cup when they travel to take on Leicester City on Saturday night. Jose Mourinho’s side crashed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Championship outfit Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Wednesday night but must now focus on overcoming a resurgent Foxes in order to keep pace with league leaders Manchester City.
At present, 11 points separate the two Manchester sides at the top of the Premier League standings and with Pep Guardiola’s men likely to notch a 17th consecutive league victory when they welcome Bournemouth to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, United will be well aware that they cannot afford another slip up against the Foxes.
Jose Mourinho made 10 changes to the starting XI that overcame West Bromwich Albion last weekend, and the likelihood is that the Portuguese boss will keep faith with most of that side that defeat the Baggies for the trip to the King Power Stadium. On the injury front, centre-back Eric Bailly is a long-term absentee with a serious ankle injury, so Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are once again likely to start at Leicester, whilst Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are expected to occupy the full-back positions.
Midfielder Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini are unlikely to be fit to take on the Foxes, but Frenchman Paul Pogba, who made his return from his three-match domestic ban at Ashton Gate, is in line to make his first league start since the victory away to Arsenal at the start of the month, alongside Nemanja Matic. It will be interesting to see who Mourinho stations on either wing, as both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford started Wednesday’s limp defeat and so the in-form Jesse Lingard may be handed a starting berth on the right flank.
Up front, meanwhile, top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who has found the back of the net in each of United’s last two league games, is once again expected to lead the line, despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal in midweek.
Since appointing Frenchman Claude Puel as Craig Shakespeare’s successor, Leicester have been in impressive form and have stormed up the league table. The Foxes are currently sitting in eighth place in the standings, although their run of four consecutive victories was brought to a surprising halt last weekend when Crystal Palace ran out 3-0 winners at the King Power. Despite that defeat, United’s backline will have to be at their very best if they are to keep out the likes Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, who have been in sparkling form of late.
With third-placed Chelsea facing a tricky trip to a reinvigorated Everton side this weekend and Arsenal hosting Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, three points are an absolute must for United in order to consolidate their position in second place and keep up the pressure on league leaders Manchester City.