The English Premier League Season opens with a showdown between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on Friday, August 10, 2018.
Manchester United’s preseason didn’t go as expected as the team went 1-2 with three draws. Team manager Jose Mourinho has publicly expressed his frustration by taking a shot at the squad that represented Manchester United in their U.S. preseason tour.
Mourinho also appears to have distanced himself from his two most exciting stars in Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba who are rumored to be looking for a way out of Manchester United this summer. That’s not official though but talks like that make us wonder if history is going to repeat itself for the Portuguese manager. Mourinho’s last two managerial jobs in Real Madrid and Chelsea both ended turbulently and coincidentally (or not?) ended after three seasons of being in charge.
Alexis Sanchez’s play was a ray of light for the Red Devils during the preseason, especially since he had been somewhat a disappointment after coming over from Arsenal last January. With United’s stars expected to miss the start of the season, the Chilean forward is expected to hit the ground running.
But Like Mourinho, Sanchez has also expressed disappointment over Manchester United’s lack of quality acquisitions. The Red Devils’ only significant addition has been Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk, defensive man Diego Dalot and third-string goalkeeper Lee Grant.
While there may be some problem brewing with Mourinho’s recent actions, all of these could subside if the club opens the season on the right foot and gets some quality wins. A victory over Leicester City should be a great start.
Manchester United vs Leicester City 8/10/18
Odds: Manchester United -200, Leicester City +525
Odds from Betonline.ag as of 8/9/18
Puel On The Way Out?
Like Mourinho at United, there seems to be a cloud of doubt over Claude Puel’s tenure as Manager at Leicester City. The Foxes got off to an excellent star with eight wins in their first nine matches since Puel’s arrival last October.But they sputtered with just five wins in their next 21 league matches as Leicester City barely got a top-half finish.
Puel survived the summer and kept his position but there is no guarantee for how long unless he can turn his squad around after last season’s disappointing finish. Since their miraculous title win in 2016, there hasn’t been a season where there has been no managerial sack so it is imperative that Puel produces wins at the start of the season.
The departure of Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City leaves a big hole in Leicester City’s creativity and goalscoring with his combined total of 60 goals and assists in the previous three seasons. The Foxes though hope that direct replacement Rachid Ghezzal, brought in form AS Monaco will be able to pick up the slack.
After yielding 60 goals in the last term, fifth worst in the division, the main focus of Leicester City’s summer was to improve their defense. The Foxes added Portuguese International Ricardo Pereira from Porto and activated the relegation clause on defender Johnny Evans’ contract with West Bromwich Albion.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Leicester City manager Claude Puel has said that English centerback Harry Maguire and striker Jamie Vardy will not be playing in Friday’s fixture. There is also a possibility that newcomer James Maddison could also miss this match.
As for the Red Devils, they have an extended injury list that includes Nemanja Mantic, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia. World Cup returnees Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young are also unlikely to play here.
Fred makes his debut in a midfield that is assembled to bring out the best in Pogba when the latter returns. Alongside Fred will be Andreas Pereira who has a chance to prove his worth after a loan spell at Valencia last season.
Here are our predicted Starting Lineups for both sides:
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
Leicester possible starting lineup:
In their last nine Premier League meetings at Old Trafford, Manchester United is unbeaten with seven wins and two draws. The last time Leicester City won at Old Trafford was in 1998 when Tony Cottee scored on a goal that gave the Foxes a 1-0 victory. Overall, the Red Devils have won eight in a row over The Foxes and have not lost since a 5-3 setback at the King Power Stadium in 2014. United also won last season’s matchup 2-0 behind goals from Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini.
Last season, the Red Devils won their first three games (including the win over Leicester City) via an aggregate score of 10-0. During Matchday 1 last season, the Red Devils won easily over West Ham at home 4-0 thanks to goals from Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba plus a Romelu Lukaku brace.
United has won Matchday 1 matches in four out of the last five years including the last three.Likewise United manager Paul Mourinho is unbeaten in nine opening day matches.
We won’t be seeing the lineups that we expected but given the absences and who’s left behind to pick up the slack plus the history of dominance.
We’re picking Manchester United to defeat Leicester City on 8/10/18.