Leicester v Man Utd – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
By Carl Lewis
Leicester host Man Utd at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening in the FA Cup quarter-finals. United last lifted the trophy in 2016 whilst Leicester have been runners up on four occasions without ever winning the famous competition. The hosts will be hoping to end a 13 match run without beating the Red Devils that dates back to 2014 when Nigel Pearson and Louis Van Gaal were the managers.
Brendan Rodgers has a number of injuries to contend with. James Justin’s season is over in defence and Harvey Barnes is set for another six weeks on the sidelines. Ricardo Pereira is nursing a tight hamstring but may be fit to play, otherwise Marc Albrighton would take his place at wingback.
Leicester are expected to play in a 3-4-3 shape again with Kelechi Iheanacho partnering Jamie Vardy with Ayoze Perez just behind them with James Maddison still injured. Dennis Praet is nearing a return after long-term injury in midfield but Cengiz Under is still out injured on the right-wing. Rodgers is expected to play his best XI.
Leicester Team News
Since losing at home to Leeds at the end of January, Leicester have generally been in good form. They have won six of their last 11 matches including a 3-1 win at Anfield. The blips in that streak were two home defeats, 2-0 to Slavia Prague and 3-1 to Arsenal.
Since then, Brendan Rodgers’ side have responded well with a 1-1 draw at Burnley being followed by winning 2-1 at Brighton and 5-0 at home against Sheffield United.
This is a big match for Leicester and they are expected to be fully motivated for it with all their attention focused on the FA Cup. Rodgers is not likely to rest any players as he will see this as a winnable trophy.
Against a big side like United, Leicester have been pragmatic this season in sitting back and playing on the break through Vardy’s pace. This match is expected to be no different.
Man Utd Form
After their fine 1-0 away win at Milan on Thursday night, United are now 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions and 13 away games without losing – a run that extends back to December.
Despite the long unbeaten streak, they have drawn seven of those 14 matches in 90 minutes and their last seven matches have seen just five goals scored with three goalless draws.
The side’s run without defeat has been built on a very solid defence with six clean sheets in their last seven matches, two of those with De Gea in goal and five of them with Henderson between the sticks.
Man Utd Team News
It’s not clear if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will play his strongest team in this match having had a tough away match on Thursday in Milan. David De Gea is fit again and may start to allow Dean Henderson to keep his place after the international break. Henderson has kept four clean sheets in five matches and De Gea may need to be the “cup goalkeeper” in the short term.
Paul Pogba is fit again and could start but Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani are doubtful in attack with Marcus Rashford is carrying an injury and may miss out altogether. Therefore, Pogba may need to play from the left wing again. Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic are pushing for involvement to freshen up the side.
Man Utd Motivation
After progressing to the quarter finals of the Europa League, Solskjaer has a tough task to decide how much priority to give the FA Cup. There are two possible trophies up for grabs so he is likely to rotate only a little and to give this match full attention. However, the players may not be completely focused on this match with fatigue to deal with.
Expect United to play a relatively abrasive game as is their wont in the big matches. Having Cavani and Martial back would give some bench strength otherwise United will need to defend and score first as they won’t be equipped to chase the game.
Leicester are 13 matches without victory against Man Utd (L9, D4)
Leicester have lost 1 of their last 8 PL matches
The Foxes have lost 3 of their last 6 home matches
Man Utd have drawn 7 of their last 14 matches in 90 minutes
United have drawn 5 of their last 9 PL matches
Man Utd have kept 6 clean sheets in their last 7 matches
This is a difficult match to call. Leicester are at home, much fresher having had all week to prepare and may have the FA Cup in full focus whereas Man Utd have their attention divided by the Europa League. With all the injuries for these sides, it may be a disjointed match. The best bet is probably a draw in normal time with extra time required.