Manchester United 1-0 Leicester
Goals: Marcus Rashford (£8.5m)
Bonus Points: Rashford x3, Victor Lindelöf x2 (£5.4m), David de Gea x2 (£5.6m)
Marcus Rashford (£8.5m) was the key man for Manchester United as they recorded a much-needed win over Leicester City on Saturday.
The Red Devils had come into this meeting with tough opposition having taken two points from their last three and several absences.
Paul Pogba (£8.5m), Luke Shaw (£5.4m), Diogo Dalot (£4.9m) and Jesse Lingard (£6.4m) were among those out with injuries, while Anthony Martial (£7.6m) missed a second successive Premier League match.
That allowed Rashford to lead the line once again, having been pushed out wide by the Frenchman in the early part of the season, although his best threat proved to be from set-pieces.
With Pogba not on the pitch, the England international scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot, after Çaglar Söyüncü (£4.6m) brought him down.
Amid much debate over Manchester United’s penalties in recent weeks, both Pogba and Rashford each missing one, the centre-forward was happy to step up against Leicester, although the absence of his French colleague did make the decision that little bit easier.
After missing against Crystal Palace, Rashford went with placement as he rolled the ball into the bottom-right corner after sending Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) the wrong way.
“He’s been practising penalties and he can go both ways. He can go through the middle, he was calm and we’re going to get more of them, no doubt about it, because we’ve got players in the box with quick feet and, with VAR now, there’s no chance you’re not going to get them, even though we haven’t got every penalty we should have. Going forward, I think we’ll see him slot in a few more. Every striker misses a penalty. I’ve seen [Diego] Maradona and [Lionel] Messi do it. I’ve seen Platini against Brazil and Zico – my favourite player of all time – missed in the same game. You’ve just got to be confident enough to step up next time. What’s the worst that can happen?” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Rashford also had the chance to make it 2-0 in the second half as he curled a fantastic free-kick over the wall only to see it cannon back off the intersection of the crossbar and post.
However, there was not too much threat offered outside of Rashford and his set-piece capabilities in a game that featured very few chances at either end.
Harry Maguire (£5.5m) was the only other player who came close to scoring, but his header was aimed straight at former colleague Schmeichel.
Daniel James (£6.2m) had come into Gameweek 5 joint-top for shots inside the box among his colleagues but was not so effective against Leicester.
Across the 90 minutes, he was restricted to two efforts from range, neither of which were on target.
It feels harsh to hold it against James given that Manchester United were missing some key personnel from their midfield.
“It wasn’t our best performance by a long way. We were sloppy on the ball at times and we didn’t keep the ball in their half long enough.” – Harry Maguire
”We were a little bit sloppy on the ball, but we had to defend and today is probably the first time this season, apart from some parts of the first half against Chelsea, that we’ve had to defend deep against a team that was pushing us, but I never felt under any real, real pressure. They didn’t create too many big chances in that second half, even though they had the ball.“ – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Gameweek 6 pitches Manchester United against West Ham who may have kept back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season after a Monday night trip to Aston Villa, but who have yet to impress too much defensively.
If the Red Devils’ key players can return in time for that encounter, then we could see James back to his best. Meanwhile, a return for Martial could push Rashford back onto the flanks of attacking midfield.
Despite not offering a huge deal going forward, Manchester United were praised for their defensive work against a Leicester side that had averaged 1.5 goals per game ahead of Gameweek 5.
They were handed a boost when the team news dropped at 2pm on Saturday as Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m), who had been considered an injury doubt, started the game at right-back.
However, the most impressive performers were Victor Lindelöf (£5.4m) and Scott McTominay (£5.0m) who did a great job of breaking up Leicester’s attacking play and limiting service to Jamie Vardy (£8.9m), the former earning two bonus points for his efforts.
“I thought McTominay was excellent. He lost the ball a few times, but you expect that because he’s still learning his role. He goes into tackles and he’s a leader. I wouldn’t want to go into a 50-50 with him! I thought he did excellent all day.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
There also appears to have been some progress for Maguire and Lindelöf as they continue to forge a central defensive partnership. The Englishman was credited for keeping Vardy under wraps while his Swedish counterpart was the man making the clearances and recoveries.
“You have to realise partnerships are built on playing games and we have only had five games. We will get better. I will understand him more and he will understand me more. There probably will be times when we can do better but we will continue to work hard on the training pitch and that is really important to build relationships around the pitch – not just me and Victor.” – Harry Maguire
That progress might be of interest to those still in possession of Manchester United defenders, or thinking about them. Many expected Leicester to find a breakthrough at Old Trafford but they were largely kept quiet.
There are certainly opportunities for further clean sheets in the next four Gameweeks, with next weekend’s trip to West Ham and the Gameweek 8 trip to Newcastle. However, managers should be aware that Manchester United do have to host Arsenal and Liverpool between now and Gameweek 9.
“We will improve and we will work hard to improve. It was important that we were solid defensively. They are a good team, and they move the ball around well, but I think we deserved the points in regards to chances created. It is really important, as a defence, to keep a clean sheet. At Old Trafford, we need to keep clean sheets to win games, like in the first game of the season [against Chelsea], if we keep a clean sheet, we win. We have enough talent in attacking areas to score goals. So, as a back four, as a team, we are really pleased with that.” – Harry Maguire
Meanwhile, this was a somewhat discouraging afternoon for those invested in Leicester assets.
The Foxes were plagued by a poor start to the game, in which Söyüncü gave away a penalty and, even though they grew into the game in the second half, it was hard for them to bounce back.
That was something that worried Jonny Evans (£5.0m) as conceding early on was something that caused big problems for former manager Claude Puel.
Last season, Leicester conceded 12 goals in the opening 15 minutes of Premier League matches, more than any other side, although this occurred less often once Brendan Rodgers came in and steadied the ship.
However, in the first five matches of the current campaign, the Foxes have let a goal in before the 15-minute mark three times. That is certainly discouraging for owners of their defensive assets, Söyüncü, who had a bad game, Ricardo Pereira (£6.0m) and Schmeichel the most popular.
With Tottenham and Liverpool two of the next four opponents for Leicester, it probably seems best to avoid their defensive assets for now.
“We’ve got to start games better. It was similar against Chelsea and we came away and had a good second half and it was maybe a bit similar to Saturday without getting the equaliser. It’s something we need to address and have a bit more belief coming into the game and a bit more determination to start the game well.” – Jonny Evans
“We didn’t start the game well from the very first kick, from kick-off. Then, we gave away the cheap penalty and that sets you back. When you’re away from home in these big games, it’s not the ideal start, but we worked our way into it.” – Brendan Rodgers
James Maddison (£7.1m) was probably Leicester’s best chance of finding the net at Old Trafford as he fired off three efforts, only one landing on target.
However, his positioning could prove a problem that needs solving for Rodgers between now and Gameweek 6.
He has been deployed on the left flank of a 4-1-4-1 often this season, and we saw the same on Saturday. However, given that he
In situations where both players have pushed forward, Maddison into the middle/right and Chilwell up the left, they were exposed down that side of the pitch. In fact, it was in this area that Rashford was able to get one-on-one with Söyüncü and win the penalty. It will, therefore, be interesting to see if Maddison is pulled back into a central role against Spurs.
Meanwhile, the Foxes’ key man Vardy did not register a single shot on Saturday afternoon, largely kept under wraps by Maguire.
“No. It was full focus on the game. Obviously, playing against [Jamie Vardy], he is a top player and he has done it in the Premier League for numerous years. I know, on his day, he can terrorise defences. I have seen it playing for Leicester for the past few years. It was really important we got hold of him and vital to nullify him because he is a top player.” – Harry Maguire
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Young, Maguire, Lindelöf, Wan-Bissaka; Matić (Fred 67′), McTominay; D James (Tuanzebe 90+1′), Mata (Chong 70′), A Pereira; Rashford.
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Söyüncü, Evans, R Pereira; Ndidi; Maddison, Choudhury (A Pérez 57′), Tielemans, D Gray (H Barnes 68′); Vardy.
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