After a two week break it’s back to the Premier League as high-flying Leicester City travel to St James’ Park.
The task at hand is sizeable given the way that Claudio Ranieri has his side performing and they will no doubt be looking to continue their fine run of form tomorrow.
For United it gives us an opportunity to build on the fortunate victory we managed against Bournemouth last time out. In all honesty we didn’t deserve the three points in what was our worst performance of the season, but having said that our best performance of the season saw us lose 3-0 so figure.
Prior to the match the French national anthem will be played through the speakers at St James’ Park and indeed at every Premier League ground this weekend to enable a moment of reflection on the despicable events from Paris that we’ve all seen and heard so much about and also to show solidarity against the twisted evil behind all of this.
Anyway back to the football…
Tim Krul, Jack Colback, Rolando Aarons, Steven Taylor and Gabriel Obertan are all still out as are Sylvain Marveaux and Emmanuel Riviere. Massadio Haidara is close to a return to fitness but is also ruled out.
Rob Elliot is likely to continue in goal after skipping international duty with Ireland but should he not make it we do have Karl Darlow to call upon although the preference would be for him to take a spot on the bench as he’s only just returned to training.
Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat, Georginio Wijnaldum, Chancel Mbemba, Paul Dummett and Aleksandar Mitrovic all played for their respective international sides during the break although events in Hannover and most certainly Paris may well be on the minds of Dutch and French players.
The only concern for Ranieri, and it is a big concern, is the availability of Jamie Vardy. The top scorer in the league missed international duty with England after picking up a hip injury against Watford and the Leicester boss is adamant he will not risk his prize asset unless he is 100% fit and passes a fitness test in Saturday morning. Ranieri said:
“I don’t know if he will be fit. He trained a little today and then tomorrow hopefully he will train again. Maybe Saturday morning I will decide. If he is fit he will play because every time he wants to play, every match. I hope he is available.”
He added: “I speak to the doctor, with the physios. If they tell me he is okay 100 percent then he plays. If not I don’t want to risk him and then lose him for a month. In all my career I have not risked a player for one match and then lose them for a month. He will play if everything is okay.”
Maybe a bluff?
Historically speaking United have been much the stronger side at St James’ Park having won 37 of the 55 matches played. Leicester have won just seven with 11 draws making up the figures.
Bu Leicester are stronger at their place (home advantage is no surprise I guess) so while United shade the head-to-head the actual record stand at 111 games played with United winning 47, Leicester 39 with draws in 25 occasions.
Interestingly both sides have scored 175 goals each in fixtures between the two clubs.
Stats and facts:
If Newcastle win it will be the first time in 12 months that United have recorded back-to-back league victories.
If our defence can register another clean sheet it will be a third shut out in a row – again a feat last achieved 12 months ago.
If passed fit Jamie Vardy is looking to score in his tenth consecutive Premier League game. Only Ruud van Nistelrooy has managed it before, and he scored his tenth goal against Newcastle.
If Leicester avoid a loss they will set a new club record of ten away top flight games without defeat.
You have to give credit to Leicester. They simply never give up. This is a spirit that was built by Nigel Pearson when they looked dead and buried last season but they survived and now Claudio Ranieri has taken it on.
But United need the points on the board and have a point to prove, not necessarily against Leicester, just in general. All the talk is about how they’ve improved and I think performances have to an extent as has the type of football – Bournemouth excluded. But now they have to start putting the points on the board to show it.
The odds would suggest that the points will end up heading back to the Midlands but if you do fancy a flutter on the game you can get a helping hand with this Betfred promo code. It may mean that you retain some interest in the match even when things aren’t going our way!
Still, stranger things have happened.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 21st November, 2015
Venue: St James’ Park