Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Kick-off time: 12:30 PM GMT, 07:30 AM Eastern, 04:30 AM Pacific
Leicester aims to put together their first back-to-back Premier League wins of the season on Saturday when they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in a rematch of this year’s Community Shield.
It will also be the club’s fifth match in 15 days. Tired yet? Didn’t think so.
Everything looked great early for Leicester last time out on Tuesday against Chelsea in the EFL Cup, up 2-0 after 35 minutes before Chelsea stormed back to tie the game and win 4-2 in extra-time. Striker Shinji Okazaki was sharp for the Foxes, scoring two goals in a losing effort while Marcin Wasilewski and Ben Chilwell got the starts at the back.
There were mixed reactions in seeing regular starters Danny Drinkwater, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson get the starts, let alone go the full 120 minutes, against Chelsea after each played a full 90 just four days prior against Burnley. It’s more than likely the trio could be running on tired legs ahead of a massive fixture on Saturday and into next week when the King Power Stadium hosts its first-ever Champions League match against FC Porto.
But Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri earned the ‘Tinkerman’ title for a reason, and many of us lack the expertise to question the Italian’s squad selections. The club made strides in the off-season to bring in depth to deal with these situations that come with a busier schedule, and it’s these moments that both Leicester players and fans need to become more accustomed to.
The one area where Ranieri assuredly doesn’t lack depth is in the striker position. Leicester have two strikers in Okazaki and Slimani coming off braces in their previous appearances who will compete for a spot in the Starting XI come Saturday, but don’t expect Ranieri to deviate from the duo of Vardy and Slimani this weekend. The natural Algerian connection of Mahrez and Slimani was demonstrated in Leicester’s previous win over Burnley and is another connection that Ranieri will be keen to preserve ahead of this weekend’s clash.
Leicester’s visit to Old Trafford starts a streak of three home games in a row for Manchester United and signals an opportunity for the Red Devils to get back into the Premier League race and earn back its fans approval following a rough 11 days.
Saying United had a bad week might be an understatement. Manager Jose Mourinho’s men dropped the Manchester derby to rivals City and a midweek Europa League clash against Feyenoord before wrapping up with an underwhelming loss to Watford. They got just the fixture they needed to lift their spirits on Wednesday against Northampton, except even that didn’t go as planned. However, United won 3-1 but needed second half goals from Ander Herrera and substitute Marcus Rashford to get past a scrappy League One side.
In that side against Northampton was Wayne Rooney, who looked lost as a central striker and is beginning to show signs of slowing down. Mourinho continuously tries to build his XI around Rooney to no avail, hindering the impact of players like Herrera and Pogba and ignoring brighter options like Rashford. They also have a guy named Zlatan Ibrahimovic that Leicester fans know well from the Community Shield. Let’s just hope for Leicester’s sake Mourinho continues his plan of forcing Rooney into the United picture on Saturday.