Leicester City will wrap up the Premier League title this weekend with a win over Manchester United, who themselves need the points as they continue their battle for a place in the 2016/17 edition of the Champions League (2.05pm Sunday on Sky Sports 1).
A 4-0 victory over Swansea City saw the Foxes move eight points clear at the summit of the standings last weekend, with Tottenham Hotspur then proceeding to draw with West Bromwich Albion on Monday night to put Leicester on the brink of history.
The thumping defeat of Swansea was important in terms of restoring confidence and belief and alleviating some of the pressure that had started to gather around the King Power Stadium after a 2-2 draw with West Ham United, which saw top scorer Jamie Vardy sent off in what was a very physical and hard-fought encounter.
Man Utd booked their place in the final of the FA Cup by beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley last time out, but must now turn their attention back to the Premier League as they resume their push for a top-four finish. It has been widely speculated that only a piece of silverware and a Champions League place will be enough for Louis van Gaal (pictured) to keep his job at Old Trafford. United cannot afford to drop too many more points between now and the end of the campaign next month, particularly as they will begin their match with Leicester on Sunday afternoon five points adrift of fourth spot.
Vardy is again suspended after the FA extended his initial one-match ban, meaning Leonardo Ulloa is likely to continue as the line-leader ahead of Shinji Okazaki in Leicester’s customary 4-4-2 formation. Jeff Schlupp may again start ahead of Marc Albrighton to provide a bit of pace and direct running out wide, with Riyad Mahrez set to take up his usual slot on the right of midfield, where he will be given the license to drift inside and take up dangerous positions in central zones. The back five will be unchanged once more, while Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante will resume their partnership in midfield.
Van Gaal, meanwhile, will be unable to call upon the services of Adnan Januzaj (hamstring), Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Will Keane (groin) and Nick Powell (broken leg), but everyone else is fit and available as United attempt to close the gap on the top four.
Rooney could continue in his new midfield role alongside Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin, with Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in line to keep their places in a fluid front three. Juan Mata may be preferred for his creativity against a side who are likely to sit deep and cede possession.
Sunday’s encounter could be a tight and low-scoring affair, with both sides having kept a fair few clean sheets this season. Despite the prize being within touching distance, Leicester must bide their time and remain patient at Old Trafford. They cannot afford to lose their discipline and push too many men forward in search of victory, and instead should continue with the game plan that has brought them so much success so far this season. As the home team – and one that is playing catch-up in the race for the Champions League places – the onus will be on United, a situation that will suit Ranieri and his counter-attacking charges.
Taking everything into account, the favourable odds on a 0-0 draw means that bet is worth backing this weekend. Leicester will be desperate to wrap up the Premier League title as soon as possible, but they may have to wait another week – or at least until Tottenham’s clash with Chelsea on Monday – to do so.