Manchester United v Leicester – Friday 20:00
All has not been well at Old Trafford leading up to their Premier League opener, and tensions have clearly been high. Jose Mourinho has not helped his squad’s preparations with his constant complaining, but the manager must remember that they held an excellent home record last term as they were W15-D2-L2 at Old Trafford, while they kept clean sheets in 11 of those victories.
The signing of Brazilian Fred will only help in that regard and he’s been one of United’s better performers in pre-season, which is just as well with Nemanja Matic set to miss this one through injury.
However, Leicester also have their own medical problems, with new signing and former United player Jonny Evans doubtful to play in the Premier League opener, meaning a likely start for the increasingly cumbersome Wes Morgan.
At 34 years old, the captain will struggle to cope with the pace of Rashford and Alexis Sanchez, with the former almost certain to start having returned to training earlier than Lukaku following a busy summer schedule.
The Foxes are also hampered by the fact that their England stars, Maguire and Vardy, featured more prominently than Rashford in Russia. Although Evans’s injury may see “Slabhead” feature, Vardy should be confirmed amongst the substitutes and that will certainly help in United’s quest for an opening day clean sheet.
The Foxes have been poor on the road to top-six sides over the past two seasons as they’ve lost 10 of 12 unbeaten games, shipping at least four goals in five of these, and though they netted nine times against top-six teams last term, two thirds of these came from Vardy himself. With that in mind, we’d be comfortable backing United to win to nil or on the handicap.
This Premier League opener will be a must-win for the Reds, as with a lack of transfers and an unhappy Mourinho on the edge of slipping into his third season syndrome, a strong start to the league is vital.