Man United hit with injuries blow against Leicester
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It’s been just under a month since the World Cup ended in Russia, but these few weeks have seemed like the longest weeks of the year to football fans. On Friday, the EPL finally returns to our screens and stadiums, kicking off at Old Trafford as Man United and Leicester face off in the curtain raiser.
For Jose Mourinho, the start of the new season has come far too soon for his liking. He begins the new campaign with a severely depleted squad due to injuries and World Cup fatigue. Nemanja Matic, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, and new signing Diogo Dalot are all out injured, while Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Paul Pogba, Phil Jones, and Romelu Lukaku are all still resting from their World Cup exploits.
To make matters even worse, Eric Bailly and Ander Herrera picked up knocks in their final pre-season game and are doubts here, although one small silver lining is the dedication shown by Marcus Rashford. The young attacker has returned from his extended break early to help his manager out a little, but Mourinho will still be very worried about the squad he has at his disposal here.
Leicester’s situation might not be quite as bad, but they do still have some very important figures missing from their squad. Claude Puel has confirmed that both Harry Maguire and Jamie Vardy will miss Friday’s game, and Jonny Evans, Nampalys Mendy, and new signing James Maddison are all injury doubts.
Neither of these sides have been overly impressive in pre-season either. Man United have spent the majority of the last month across the Atlantic touring the United States, but they won just one of their 5 matches over there, and followed that up with a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on their return to Europe last weekend. This run includes draws against Club America and San Jose Earthquakes and a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Leicester have managed just 2 wins from their 5 pre-season friendlies. They beat Notts County in their first friendly of the summer, and finished their preparations at the weekend with a 2-1 win over Lille. In between those triumphs were draws against Valencia and Akhisarspor and a defeat to Udinese, so there is a lot of work for both teams to do.
We might be hoping for an entertaining start to the season, but looking at both these teams, it’s becoming increasingly likely to be a low scoring affair. Lukaku, Lingard, and Pogba, all of whom are expected to miss Friday’s game, scored 44% of Man United’s league goals last season. Leicester have it even worse, with Jame Vardy and the departed Riyad Mahrez scoring 57% of their EPL goals last term.
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