By Kiran Thakare
- What are the three keys battles that could decide this game
Manchester United gear up to host the Premier League Champions Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Red Devils have suffered two consecutive defeats in the league. Losing ground on the leaders as they are now sit six points behind Manchester City in the table.
On the other hand the defending champions had a poor start to the campaign as they have collected only two wins from five games.
They bounced back from a crushing defeat against Liverpool in an emphatic manner as they thumped Burnley in a 3-0 rout.
Jose Mourinho will be looking to get things right for United and these three key battles come decide the outcome of the game.
Islam Slimani vs Eric Bailly
After winning the Premier League last term, Leicester were active in the transfer market. They lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea but were successful in keeping Riyadh Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.
They have bought good young players and some experienced one but the one to keep an eye on is their record signing Islam Slimani from Sporting CP.
The Algerian striker enjoyed a successful season last year and hit the ground running for Leicester with two goals against Burnley.
Slimani is a perfect number nine who can participate in build-up and shrug off the defender with his clever runs.
He can be a major threat to United forming a good partnership with Vardy. United were unable to contain the striker duo of Watford so Leicester would be looking to exploit the same weakness.
Eric Bailly had his first poor game for United against Watford but he will be key against Leicester. Bailly will have to show both speed and power to keep Slimani quiet.
Riyadh Mahrez vs Luke Shaw
Jose Mourinho was critical of his left-back against Watford. He believes that Shaw was positionally wrong in the build-up to the second goal of Watford.
Shaw has enjoyed a decent start to the season after missing out last campaign due to a horrific leg break. The 21 year-old sat out for the game against Northampton with a groin problem but it is likely that he will be back for Leicester game.
Shaw will have a greater challenge on the left flank compared to Watford as Mahrez plays on the right wing for Leicester.
The Algerian has not enjoyed the best of the starts to the season but slowly getting into the groove after bagging a brace on Leicester’s Champions League debut.
He can cause havoc with his trickery and pace. Shaw generally bombs forward to join attack but he will have to keep his positioning perfect to nullify Mahrez on the counter.
Paul Pogba vs Danny Drinkwater
Manchester United have been overrun in the midfield in the last three games they have lost.
They made a high profile signing in Paul Pogba to solve their midfield problems. The Frenchmen shined on debut but since then he has been struggling for form.
This is an ideal match for Pogba to do well. There have been reports that Wayne Rooney could be dropped for the game against Leicester. If that happens Pogba can thrive in the left side of a midfield three.
Pogba will have to deliver a more disciplined performance inorder to contribute in attack and also execute his defensive duties.
Danny Drinkwater could man up against the Frenchmen in order to stop him from dominating the midfield. The Englishman plays in a midfield two for Leicester in a 4-4-2 formation.
Drinkwater who works tirelessly for the team will be an interesting matchup for Pogba. Pogba has the skill and creativity on his side but the winner of this duel can dictate the game for the respective team.