Manchester United will line up against Leicester City on Friday night in what will be the first piece of action in the 2018/19 English Premier League campaign.
The season opener, penciled to take place under the Old Trafford floodlights, will see Jose Mourinho begin his third year in charge at the Theatre of Dreams — albeit without clinching the most coveted prize on English soil in his previous two attempts.
Extra poignancy will without question be made of the fact that the Portuguese talisman unsuccessfully bid for the League title having spent two successive seasons at the club; this being the first time he has failed to attain the milestone in his illustrious career.
United could ill afford a sluggish start against Leicester, with the media fervently baying for Jose Mourinho’s blood. Pockets of discussions have run riot across the press, often using excerpts from his interviews throughout Manchester United’s pre-season tour of America to portray Jose as a prima donna whose best days are well behind me.
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If anything however, Mourinho’s only undoing has been to lay out a modest assessment of his squad, given the lukewarm and uninspiring nature of the club’s transfer policy, coupled with the absence of key players who were reasonably still on holiday having participated in the latter stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
There have been genuine concerns raised by Man United supporters over the weeks, as the Red devils have labored for results throughout their short-lived participation in the International Champions Cup. Their two wins in three matches couldn’t count for much, as it was a matter of functionality over flair which should never be the case in a pre-season fixture.
A largely under-strength United side won their opening game against AC Milan, nevertheless emerging 9-8 winners after a ludicrous penalty shootout, before sustaining a 4-1 defeat to archrivals Liverpool in their second outing of the tournament.
Jose Mourinho’s charges completed their pre-season tour in the US with a 2-1 win over Real Madrid but lost to a Javi Martinez header in their last friendly match away to Bayern Munich.
The summer transfer window for English clubs is set to close much earlier than in previous years after Premier League clubs voted last September to have the window closed earlier so as to avoid being distracted by completing transfers when the season is already on course. The change will however only affect incoming signings, as clubs will still be allowed to sell to other European Leagues although without making replacements.
The news is unwelcoming to Manchester United who have endured one of the most disappointing summer windows in recent years. Although new acquisitions have come in the form of Fred, Diogo Dalot and goalkeeper Lee Grant, the signings do not necessarily address immediate concerns at the club.
Fred for instance is the replacement for Michael Carrick who has joined Mourinho’s coaching staff whereas Grant will fill in for the injured Sergio Romero. Dalot could give skipper Antonio Valencia a run for his money, and a much needed rest over the course of the season, but the Portuguese is currently sidelined with an injury.
There is little to be envied over Manchester United’s transfer policy considering they voted against having the transfer window closed earlier than August 31, alongside clubs likes Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Watford and Swansea.
Whether they will address their defensive concerns by signing a centre-back before deadline day remains to be seen, but Jose Mourinho’s charges will have to shift through the gears in their opening match against the Foxes.
Manchester United vs. Leicester City betting predictions
United will be bolstered by the return of key players, with nothing short of a win on the cards, more so given the raw emotions inside what will be a packed Old Trafford.
Leicester City registered a win, a draw and a loss in their last three pre-season matches against Lille, Valencia and Udinese respectively, with Kelechi Iheanacho netting four goals in the three games.
Save for the enforced absence of Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire who were part of the England entourage in Russia, Claude Puel has had a full strength side to train with over the weeks compared to Jose Mourinho who has only recently been joined by some of his most pivotal players.
Be that as it may, nothing but a win would suffice for the Red devils.
|Best Bet||Odds||Bet Now|
|Manchester United to win||-200 at WilliamHill||Place Bet|
|Both teams to score||+110 at WilliamHill||Place Bet|
Manchester United vs. Leicester City recent results
Leicester City 2-2 Man United (December 23, 2017)
Jamie Vardy 27′
Harry Maguire 90+4′
Juan Mata, 40′, 60′
Man United 2-0 Leicester City (August 26, 2017)
Marcus Rashford 70′
Marouane Fellaini 82′
Leicester City 0-3 Man United (February 5, 2017)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 42′
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 44′
Juan Mata 49′
Man United 4-1 Leicester City (September 24, 2016)
Chris Smalling 22′
Juan Mata 37′
Marcus Rashford 40′
Paul Pogba 42′
Man United 1-1 Leicester City (May 1, 2016)
Anthony Martial 8′
Wes Morgan 17′
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