It’s Leicester v Man Utd as they try to keep pressure on Premier League leaders Liverpool on Boxing Day. Here’s our tactical look at the competition.
This certainly won’t be that wild United’s 6-2 win over Leeds. Brendan Rodgers has a habit of keeping things tight and playing conservatively against the bigger clubs, and the Leicester City manager will be aware that Man Utd are happy to counter – which means an even territorial battle between two cautious sides who don’t can attack or want to take risks.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there is a low score. Leicester have an opportunity to injure Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, neither of whom get enough support from the wingers, while the United front can enforce the set pieces that hit Leicester particularly hard. The pattern of play will be relatively low, however, as United fends off Leicesters explosive vertical attacks and the foxes sit deep enough to limit the visitors’ pace front.
Back to the 12/5 draw (Paddy Power)
Key combat zone
Man Utd have been ruthless against Leeds because Marcelo Bielsa leaves central midfield, leaving Kalvin Phillips alone in the middle while his teammates burst forward or spread wide. This allowed Bruno Fernandes to dominate with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, both of whom immerse themselves in the number 10. This will again be the main fighting zone, but Leicester should win on this occasion.
Youri Tielemans and Wilfried Ndidi were excellent at Tottenham, facing challenges and staying close to the back four to close the area of the pitch where Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane operate. Fernandes will then find it much more difficult to break the lines and push Rashford or Martial away.
Keep an eye on the set pieces at Man Utd
Leicester conceded three goals in their 3-0 loss to Liverpool, two of which came from the corner, and again conceded a corner in the 2-0 loss to Everton. Defending set pieces in big games becomes a serious problem for Rodgers’ side, conceding more goals (six) than any other team in the Premier League and the second most set pieces (seven).
In a stuttering stop-start game (playing boxing day should make this worse), sloppy defense in set pieces could make all the difference. United have scored eight set pieces this season, including penalty shoot-outs, and are third on the table for shots from dead passes. The sharpness of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s strikers should win many corners in Leicester.
One to check out … Jamie Vardy
Boxing Day makes the game open again for concentration problems or unpredictable moments of defense. Leicester’s tactical strategy of explosive attacks through sudden pace-changing forward passes by Youri Tielemans and James Maddison could mean exploiting foggy moments in the United defense.
Certainly Jamie Vardy is a little inappropriate against Victor Lindelof. Vardy is excellent at isolating the weaker center-back with his runs. There should be brief moments in this close game where Leicester’s top scorer falls behind.
Back Vardy to score at EVS (Betfair) anytime
The odds are correct at the time of publication. 18+ Please play responsibly. Visit begambleaware.org