The title may be out of Manchester United’s reach, but with all the money that has been spent this season, Champions League has to be the bare minimum for Louis van Gaal and his side must achieve this season.
Leicester City produced one of the shocks against United when they overcame a 3-1 deficit to triumph 5-3 at the King Power Stadium earlier this season. Robin van Persie, Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria were all on the score sheet that afternoon before Nigel Pearson’s side produced an inspired comeback in the second half to cut open a reeling United backline.
Ashley Young is out with a muscle injury while Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are doubtful. Let’s take a look at the lineup Van Gaal might send out tonight.
Goalkeeper – David De Gea
United’s No.1 between the sticks by some distance, but with Real Madrid interested, the question is how long?
Defence – Rafael, Jones, Rojo, Blind.
Rafael provides a better defensive and offensive option compared to the makeshift Antonio Valencia. The Brazilian would be expected to provide the width down the right flank in what is expected to be a narrow United side. Phil Jones has looked solid in recent games and Daley Blind looks the apart in the Premier League. Marcos Rojo should line up at left back. Expect crosses to be whipped in from both flanks.
Midfield – Fellaini, Herrera, Di Maria, Mata.
With Michael Carrick out for four weeks with a muscle rupture, Fellaini should be asked to shield the back four with Ander Herrera given the license to link up in attack. Angel Di Maria has lacked that spark in recent games and has to raise his game in a United team severely dependent on his attacking and creative abilities. Juan Mata should be more at ease in a diamond.
Forwards – Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney.
Falcao has failed to deliver in recent matches against Queens Park Rangers and Cambridge United, cutting a frustrated figure thanks to his poor finishing. Robin van Persie is match fit again and should get the nod for this one.
Wayne Rooney’s best position is right up front. And if Van Gaal intends to get the best out of his captain, the Dutchman must play the Englishman as a striker. Rooney scores goals and playing up front allows him the best opportunity to do so.