Manchester United face a huge match this weekend – one that could define Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s legacy at Old Trafford.
The Norwegian has brought confidence back to the club. But United need to be at the top table of European football. And that means avoiding defeat in Sunday’s clash against Leicester City.
Prior to football’s shut-down, United fans would have bitten the proverbial hand off to have Champions League qualification in our own hands.
A wonderful run of form – albeit with a couple of recent wobbles – means Solskjaer needs only a point to seal the deal.
That will be easier said than done against a Foxes side still in with a shout of their own. In short, this is a Champions League play-off in all but name.
While both teams could still finish in the top four, it would take results elsewhere to go their way and they simply cannot take the risk.
Leicester will want to win and United must stop them.
While some key men will be missing for the hosts, top-scorer Jamie Vardy is not among them. And a player with 23 goals this season is more than capable of getting one against United.
A vital battle
The man tasked with stopping Vardy knows him well. United skipper Harry Maguire watched from the opposite end of the field as the former scored for fun.
Now, United’s record defensive signing will have to be at his very best to keep the 33-year-old quiet.
A battle between Maguire and Vardy is enough to bring some United fans out in a cold sweat. After all, United’s summer signing has faltered on occasions.
Mistakes have led to goals more than once and he cannot afford for that to happen on Sunday.
United are not currently the free-flowing scorers they were just a few weeks ago. It could be a single goal that decides this clash and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men need to get it.
Maguire and Victor Lindelof kept Vardy quiet when the two teams met back in September.
That clash was decided by an early Marcus Rashford penalty and United would take the same this time round.
Unless United can get a two-goal cushion, the game is likely to be incredibly tense. If ever Maguire had the opportunity to justify his hefty price-tag, it is now.
The United star has been made to look foolish against lesser players than Vardy this season. Another slip could be the costliest of them all.