The 2018-19 Premier League season officially starts this Friday! Manchester United will open the league campaign at home as they will host Leicester City. Jose Mourinho’s men usually have performed well in season openers, but this time things are different. The Red Devils enter this game quite depleted on both ends of the pitch, and with several key players out of the team due to rest after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Will they manage to overcome the absences to start the 2018-19 season with three points under their belts?
Jose Mourinho has revealed that there will be several absentees for Manchester United. Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic are all unavailable due to injury. Plus, the players who featured until the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup are not playing, either. That list includes Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young, among others.
Meanwhile, Claude Puel’s Leicester could also have a number of absentees. Former Manchester United centre-back Jonny Evans has been ruled out with an injury. England internationals Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire are doubtful, but recent reports have indicated both will undergo a late-fitness test to determine their availability. Papy Mendy is also out for The Foxes.
Form guide & transfer update
Manchester United’s pre-season featured a mixed bag of results. The Red Devils drew to San Jose Earthquakes and Club America, defeated AC Milan and Real Madrid, and lost to both Liverpool and Bayern Munich for a W2, D2, L2 mark. In terms of transfers, The Red Devils signed Fred, Diogo Valot and Lee Grant, while Andreas Pereira returned from a season-long loan deal at Valencia. Meanwhile, Daley Blind (signed with Ajax) and Michael Carrick (retirement) are not with the team anymore.
On the other hand, Leicester featured in five pre-season matches although only one of those was against an English opponent. The Foxes defeated Notts County and Lille, drew against Akhisarspor and Valencia, and lost to Udinese. In terms of transfer activity, Puel lost Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City but signed five new players: Danny Ward, Ricardo Pereira, Filip Benkovic, James Maddison and Evans. Robert Huth and Ben Hamer also left the side.
What happened the last time these two sides met in this venue?
The Reds secured a 2-0 win over the Foxes at Old Trafford on 26 August 2017, thanks to goals from Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford. In fact, Manchester United have won four of their last five matches at Old Trafford against Leicester (W4, D1).
United have won 64 of 126 competitive matches against Leicester City, also drawing 29 and losing 33.
Expect a nerve-wracking game, as it usually happens in the season opener. Plus, both teams could he shorthanded heading into this one. However, Manchester United have an excellent track record in opening matches of late, and that should not change here. I expect The Red Devils to start the 2018-19 season with a solid win in front of their crowd at Old Trafford.