Leicester City’s spell of tough encounters against top-six opposition continues when they host Manchester United at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (14:05 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
With Claude Puel under pressure, a run of fixtures against Liverpool, United and Tottenham Hotspur looked like a possible death knell for the French coach. Instead his side did right by him by producing a strong performance away to Liverpool in the first of those on Wednesday.
Their hosts took an early lead, but Leicester fought back well and equalized through Harry Maguire in first-half stoppage time. They defended well throughout and created the better chances of the match, with James Maddison and Demarai Gray guilty of failing to take full advantage of highly promising situations. It was a solid and well-organised display.
The point kept Leicester amongst the group of six teams separated by four points still scrapping over the positions from seventh to 12th in the table. Like many in that group, their problem has been their inability to put together a consistent run of form. All three of the occasions on which they have won consecutive matches have been preceded or followed by consecutive defeats.
Puel is doing a decent job, but as at his previous club Southampton, his relatively dull approach is leading to support unrest. Matches featuring Leicester have averaged the fourth lowest number of goals (2.50 per match) in the division. Only five sets of home supporters have seen less goals than the 1.18 per match Leicester have averaged at the King Power Stadium.
The club gave Puel good backing in the transfer market last summer, and his midfield has been further bolstered by the January loan arrival of Youri Tielemans from Monaco. Puel has a contract through to the end of the 2019-2020 season. Unless he is able to steer Leicester to a seventh place finish, and the spot in European competition that could provide, the feelings of fans might eventually see that directorial faith falter.
The directors of Leicester’s opponents on Sunday could not be happier with the decision they made to change the man in their dugout. Though after eight consecutive victories in all competitions, six in the Premier League, Man Utd’s winning streak under interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally came to an end on Tuesday when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Burnley.
It was a result that could have been much better yet could also have been much worse. United enjoyed enough attacking territory and created enough chances to have been relatively comfortable victors. The reality of the situation was that they were two goals down until the 87th minute, when Paul Pogba got one back from the penalty spot. They only saved a point when Victor Lindelof lashed home from inside the area in injury time.
The failure to secure all three points was doubly frustrating given that victory would have seen United move level with Arsenal and Chelsea in a three-way tie for fourth. Given it wasn’t so long ago that they were a full 11 points shy of the top four, they should be grateful just to be involved in that race at this stage of the campaign.
Solskjaer has undoubtedly improved the mood around Old Trafford, but more concretely, Mn Utd have improved at both ends of the pitch since he replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho in mid-December. Their strong run of results has been matched by better underlying numbers than under his predecessor.
With matches against Arsenal and Chelsea still to come, Man Utd will have opportunities to take direct points from their rivals for the final Champions League qualifying berth. A season that was drifting to mediocrity under Mourinho has been reignited under Solskjaer.
Our Preview’s Leicester vs Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
United’s good run has a solid chance of continuing this weekend. They have won five and lost none of their last eight league encounters with Leicester, including a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season in which Pogba and Luke Shaw scored the goals. Against a Leicester side seemingly incapable of putting together any sort of consistency, United’s attacking power could be enough to see them to victory.
On the other side of the argument, Leicester will have drawn confidence from their draw with Liverpool. Conversely Man Utd, judged by the Burnley result last time, have not put all their vulnerabilities behind them.
- Back Leicester to win at home @ best odds of 14/5 (almost 3/1) with Betfred.
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