Diogo Dalot

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Premier League Preview: Man United v. Leicester City

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  • Harry Maguire left Leicester for Man United, for $97 million
  • Leicester 3rd in PL heading into Matchweek 5
  • Man United, riding three-game winless skid, sit 8th

Harry Maguire’s new club, Manchester United, is set to host Maguire’s old club, Leicester City, when the Foxes visit the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold). Maguire moved from Leicester to Man United for a world-record fee (for a defender), after a protracted transfer saga that played out for much of the summer, but it’s Leicester currently enjoying a hot start to their Premier League campaign and occupying a top-three spot.

Meanwhile, United have struggled out of the gates and and sit eighth in the PL table. After thrashing Chelsea on the opening day of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side took just two points from its next three games, including a loss to Crystal Palace. It’s that recent run of results which adds a significant amount of pressure to Saturday’s clash. The top story of United’s still-young season is missed penalty kicks: Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have each failed to convert from the spot this season, leaving everyone, Solskjaer included, unsure of who’ll step up to take United’s next one.

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On the other side, Jamie Vardy is off to a flying start with three goals in four games, including a brace in Leicester’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth just before the international break. Leicester’s greatest strength lies just behind Vardy, though, as Brendan Rodgers has gotten star performances out of each of James Maddison (two assists) and Youri Tielemans (one goal, one assist). The Englishman and Belgian, respectively, have produced free-flowing passages of play with shocking regularity. The duo represents the Foxes’ best chance at breaking back into the top-six — or, dare anyone say it this early in the season, the top-four.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Paul Pogba (ankle), Anthony Martial (thigh), Luke Shaw (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Aaron Wan-Bissaka (back); PROBABLE – Diogo Dalot (hip)

Leicester: OUT – Matty James (achilles); QUESTIONABLE – Daniel Amartey (ankle)


Projected lineups

Man United: De Gea – Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young – Matic, McTominay, Mata – James, Rashford, Lingard

Leicester: Schmeichel – Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell – Ndidi, Maddison, Tielemans, Albrighton, Barnes – Vardy


What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on Maguire’s arrival: “I’m sure he’s looking forward to playing against his old team, but now he’s here, he’s going to be a big part of the future of this club. That’s why we spent the money we did on him. … I think he’s been brilliant [since signing]. I think he’s come into the dressing room and been a leader. He’s also obviously a leader on the pitch, you can see that. He is definitely a character and a personality that can be a captain of a big club, yeah, and he’s a leader in the dressing room – by performances, presence, stature and behavior.”

Brendan Rodgers, on Maguire’s departure: “I text him now and then and wish him the best when he plays with England. He’s a remarkable guy and a fantastic player. He’s a remarkable guy and a fantastic player. His behavior typified him as a man. It was so difficult for him and right the way through, his behavior was exemplary. He’s a good guy and you can see he’s made them better.”


Prediction

United’s home dominance — or, lack thereof — is perhaps the greatest difference between the Sir Alex Ferguson era and every iteration of United since his retirement in 2013. No one is afraid to go to Old Trafford anymore. United went 10W-6D-3L in league games at Old Trafford last season. In Ferguson’s final season, they went 16W-0D-3L en route to the PL title. Leicester are one of the few sides without a win at Old Trafford in that period. Saturday represents a golden opportunity with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial ruled out through injuries. Leicester get their win, 1-0.

Man United suffer injury crisis

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Manchester United will be without several first team stars for their Premier League clash against Leicester City on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed on Friday that Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial are all out injured, while Jesse Lingard and Aaron Wan-Bissaka may not make it either.

United host a Leicester side who are unbeaten so far and playing some dazzling stuff under Brendan Rodgers, as many believe this game will set the tone for the Foxes pushing above United this season and having a better chance than the Red Devils of nicking a top four spot.

This injury crisis is far from ideal for Solskjaer.

“The treatment room has been busy and still is,” Solskjaer said. “We don’t really know who is going to be available. Maybe Aaron, maybe Jesse and that’s it from the ones that had to pull out but I can’t promise those two will be fit either. Pogba won’t be fit unless he’s had a miraculous recovery overnight. He’s not been ready to train at 100 per cent. We hope more can be ready for West Ham, Paul and Anthony are in that category. I think they will be ready for then. I can’t say more than that.”

So, that is Pogba, Lingard, Shaw, Martial and Wan-Bissaka all likely to be missing, plus Diogo Dalot and Eric Bailly are out injured.

How might United line up against Leicester at Old Trafford?

The lineup below is probable, and it certainly looks like Leicester’s pace and trickery in the final third may be too much for this banged up United side to handle.

—– De Gea —–

—- Tuanzebe —- Lindelof —- Maguire —- Young —-

—- McTominay —- Matic —-

—- Mata —- Perreira —- James —- 

—– Rashford —–

Wan-Bissaka pulls out of England squad with back injury

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New Manchester United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka has pulled out of the England squad with a back injury, the national team confirmed Tuesday.

Wan-Bissaka had received his first international call-up after a summer move to Manchester United where he has settled in fantastically and impressed in his first four Red Devils appearances. He was with the England squad as the group trained ahead of upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo, and was looking at the possibility of making his international debut, but seemed to have picked up the back problem in training.

“Aaron Wan-Bissaka has withdrawn from the England squad,” the FA said in a statement. “The Manchester United right-back has returned to his club due to a back issue.”

The FA confirmed in the statement that with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier both already with the group as right-sided full-backs, no replacement would be drawn in to the squad and the number of players would remain at 24 after Wan-Bissaka’s withdrawal. The Guardian reports that the new injury leaves Wan-Bissaka in a questionable state for Manchester United’s Premier League match against Leicester City on September 14. With Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot both injured already, it leaves the Red Devils worryingly thin at full-back.

The 21-year-old moved to Manchester United from Crystal Palace this summer in a $60 million move, and has been fantastic thus far, living up to his reputation as a tackling wizard with a stunning haul of 26 completed tackles in 31 attempts thus far. Still, Manchester United has struggled to open the season, winning just one of its first four Premier League matches.

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Man Utd

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Saints and Red Devils will battle for the high ground on Saturday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Southampton’s three points have them in the drop zone, thanks to half of the table holding 1-1-1 records. That half includes Manchester United.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Manchester United will have neither Luke Shaw nor Anthony Martial on Saturday, the latter a huge problem considering he’s been the club’s top performer this season.

And with the Red Devils having sanctioned a pair of Serie A loan moves for Chris Smalling and Alexis Sanchez, the bench is going to look a little different this week.

Saints have injuries, too, as depth will be tested for both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralph Hasenhuttl.


Injuries/suspensions

Southampton — OUT: Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo. UNLIKELY: Michael Obafemi. QUESTIONABLE: Ryan Bertrand.

Man Utd — OUT: Shaw, Martial, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah.


What they’re saying

Saints manager Hasenhuttl eyes progress“I think the team is building up self-confidence now, after that difficult start, with difficult games. We had a very good performance against Liverpool, but with no points after two games, and now we have turned the table a little bit and we can make a massive step now when we take three points against Man United.”

United boss Solskjaer on possible Zlatan return: “Who knows, he knows my number, he looked at my house [to rent]. We can speak a native language, if he’s serious I’ll always speak to Zlatan. I don’t think that’ll happen, no. I think he’s had his time at the club, he’s had a fantastic career at the club.”


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn — Danso, Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bednarek, Valery — Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse — Ings, Adams.

Manchester United: De Gea — Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka — McTominay, Pogba, Mata — James, Rashford, Lingard.


Prediction: United has been terribly unfortunate this season, but at some point the Red Devils have to let the rubber meet the road in terms of results. It won’t be easy at Southampton, but the lack of Redmond and Djenepo may force Hasenhuttl to play it safe. That sounds like 1-0 United to us. For the entertainment of it, let’s hope somebody scores early.

Analyzing Manchester United’s offseason with under 48 hours to go

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There is certain unease about Manchester United, whose fortunes have dipped wildly after a remarkable 20-year run as one of the best sides in the world.

The Red Devils’ have maintained their status as one of the biggest clubs in the world, but have finished 7th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 2nd, and 6th in the six seasons since it completed a run of 13 Premier League titles in 21 years.

[ MORE: Manchester United season preview ]

At this point, it seems that United chairman Ed Woodward is more or less going all-in on the idea that his most recent firing, Jose Mourinho, was the problem and not the club he assembled for the Portuguese veteran, while also heeding Mourinho’s advice that the team badly needed to address the defense.

New boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s credentials going into the new season are three:

  1. He immediately led United on a 12-match unbeaten run against a lot of PL clubs he was supposed to beat, and Spurs.
  2. He engineered an unlikely comeback against Neymar-less PSG in the Champions League to bring some magic to Old Trafford.
  3. He’s not Jose Mourinho.

United has spent big on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, two of the best in England at their respective positions, and also picked up young winger Daniel James from Swansea City.

Gone are Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia, a far cry from the expected departures when the window began earlier this summer.

The Red Devils have the talent to contend for a place in the Top Four, but they’ll need a lot of things to go their way including the continued development of young players. It would be a boon for Romelu Lukaku to remain at the club in the hopes of an expected bounce back season, but it seems that United believes Marcus Rashford will take even bigger strides after a pair of 13-goal seasons at Old Trafford.

They’ll need that, as well as continued growth from Scott McTominay and Diogo Dalot (On the flip side, Alexis Sanchez turning back the hands of time sure would be nice).

There are two days left in the transfer window, one which as it stands has been a decent success. That could of course change if Pogba is sold, or if Lukaku lands them a haul such as the rumored Mario Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi switch.

If not, was their offseason enough? You’d have to say probably not, or only if Paul Pogba asserts himself as one of the best midfielders in the world over 38 matches, seizing the chance to prove his doubters wrong.

And if the season does not deliver, then it might be the final straw for Woodward.