Leicester vs Man United

One admitted to drinking almost a whole bottle of port on the eve of a match then downing three cans of Red Bull and a double espresso in the hours before kick-off.

The other steers well clear of any fizzy drinks, rarely drinks alcohol, only eats nutritious foods and takes five power naps each day.

Yet, for their somewhat contrasting methods, both Jamie Vardy and Cristiano Ronaldo could easily finish as the Premier League’s leading goalscorer this season.

They’re both deadly forwards in their mid-thirties more than capable of outstripping a defence and changing the course of a game in an instant.

It makes this Saturday’s Leicester City versus Manchester United fixture a fascinating one as the Premier League makes a welcome return after the monotony of this week’s World Cup qualifiers.

Vardy, having called time on his England career over three years ago, could enjoy their games against Andorra and Hungary with his feet up on the sofa.

Ronaldo, even at 36, loves still being in the thick of it for Portugal though. He scored his 10th international hat-trick – and the 58th of his astonishing career – in a 5-0 thrashing of Luxembourg on Tuesday night.

It left Portugal in the box seat in qualifying Group A – a point behind leaders Serbia but with a game in hand. It’s a safe bet to say Ronaldo will be in Qatar next year.

Ronaldo keeping his scoring form going will be good news to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because the match at the King Power Stadium has the potential to become something of a shoot-out.

Solskjaer is likely to be without first-choice central defenders Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane, leaving Vardy licking his lips at the prospect of taking on Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof.

As a striker who thrives on making runs in behind defenders, Vardy will certainly fancy his chances of adding to his half-dozen Premier League goals so far this season.

Lindelof can be stand-offish when opponents run at him with speed and is often criticised for his lack of aerial authority, while Bailly can sometimes lunge in without much forethought. Either way, it could be good news for Leicester.

Despite Vardy’s fine form, Brendan Rodgers’ side haven’t got going yet this season. They are 13th, with only two wins from their first seven. They have also collected just one point from six in the Europa League.

But the prospect of an open contest against a stuttering United could be just what they need. There won’t be any inferiority complex – they took four points off Solskjaer’s side last season and dumped them out the FA Cup.

While Leicester could do with three points after a slow start, that’s nothing compared to the pressure to get a result Solskjaer is feeling.

A run of three defeats from their last six matches has sapped away the feel-good factor around Ronaldo’s return and Solskjaer is undoubtedly under pressure to turn things around.

Unfortunately for him, United’s soft-landing into the new season is well and truly over with a daunting set of games between now and the end of November.

They play Leicester, Atalanta (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City, Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal in an unforgiving run of fixtures that even at this early point could make or break United’s season.

Solskjaer has proven himself a very good tactician in the big games before and he now has more attacking weapons at his disposal with Marcus Rashford also closing in on a return.

Ronaldo may have scored five times in six games to prove emphatically he can still cut it in English football but United can’t fall into the trap of relying on him to bail them out every time however much he sulks and storms down the tunnel.

Leicester will be without Wesley Fofana at the back and Wilfred Ndidi in midfield, which can only encourage United but things need to click in attack with too many recent performances unconvincing.

Matches between these two have become closer over the years. United traditionally had the upper hand but last season’s encounters saw Leicester in the ascendancy.

Given both sides’ form and both Vardy and Ronaldo is excellent touch, Saturday’s match could be a ding-dong affair.

It’s faintly ridiculous to describe a game in October as must-win but for Rodgers and Solskjaer, it’s one they daren’t lose.


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