How will Manchester United deal with Leicester's talented midfield?
Manchester United versus Leicester City is a must win game for the Red Devils. But is the game going to be played on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side’s terms?
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester have a young exciting crop of players, who are evolving and seem to be the league’s best hope to break up the monopoly of the top six heavyweight clubs, once again.
Solskjaer’s youthful squad are also learning on the job but they lack the craft and guile that some of Leicester’s technicians possess.
After the promising drubbing of Chelsea on the opening gameweek, United have since lacked that cutting edge and ruthless streak, which would have killed games off and significantly bolstered their points tally.
Leicester on the other hand have been both entertaining and clinical. They currently sit third in the table and remain unbeaten.
Will United be able to dictate the tempo?
Saturday’s game at Old Trafford could be decided by who comes out on top in the crucial midfield battle. Rodgers is lucky enough to have Wilfried Ndidi, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison at his disposal. All three are good enough to get into United’s side.
In Ndidi and also Hamza Choudhury, Leicester have two defensively minded midfielders who will protect their back four and give both Tielemans and Maddison the opportunity to go and impose themselves on the game.
Ndidi made a league best 143 tackles last season. For context, Luke Shaw was United’s best and he only made 55.
Solskjaer will likely opt for a midfield three of Pogba, McTominay and Pereira in an attempt to combat Leicester’s energy. But there is a danger that United could get outnumbered and end up chasing shadows, while with the ball, breaking the Foxes down won’t be easy.
James Maddison impressed on his Premier League debut away at United last season and he will be Leicester’s key creative maestro. The former Norwich man already has two assists to his name this season along with four through balls.
The young Englishman thrives on Jamie Vardy’s desire to make runs inbehind opposition defences every time he gets on the ball, lets hope Harry Maguire is one step ahead of his former team mates come Saturday.
Will Leicester target Pogba?
The bulk of United’s creativity will probably rest on Paul Pogba’s shoulders. The Frenchman also has two assists to his name this season and has already made 306 passes along with having 380 touches.
Leicester’s well balanced midfield will be hoping to cut off Pogba’s chances of influencing the game by suffocating him every time he’s in possession.
Having Ndidi as a protector allows both Maddison and Tielemans to be adventurous, they have already had 24 efforts on goal between them this season. Paul Pogba has had seven.
United could turn to Nemanja Matic to replicate this, but the Serbian is not in favour at United. Bringing him back in to deal with Maddison is one option.
There is no denying the effort McTominay and Pereira bring to every game, although the jury is still out on the quality. There is a reason why Pogba is being deployed in a deeper role. He’s just better at it than them, but in the process United lose so much more.
A win against a talented Leicester side could be the momentum building victory United need to get their season back on track but Solskjaer’s midfield men will have to be faultless.
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