The Red Devils came back to the stadium where they secured CL football for this season, against Leicester in the do-or-die game for both clubs. Ironically, both clubs will be suiting up for the second tier European competition once the clock rolls over into 2021. Prior to the game, they secured the two highest positions in the league behind the champions so this, along with United potentially equalling the consecutive away win record in the Premier League, made this incredibly important for both to keep in relative touch with the top. The opening mins saw Rash miss a header, in a very similar fashion to one he missed against Leicester in early 2019 and Chelsea away in late 2017. He would make amends as Bruno stretched to play the ball into his path and he side-footed it into the corner. Leicester struck back with a Harvey Barnes strike courtesy of mistakes from Maguire, Bruno, the biggest culprit, McTominay and De Gea. The game drifted until Bruno flashed into life, as he struck into the bottom left. Leicester would equalise late on, as a scuffed Vardy shot deflected in off Tuanzebe, as the teams shared the points.
The exclusion of Wan Bissaka, because of an injury he picked up in the previous league game, meant that United would play a CB at RB for the second game running. It was Lindelof deputising this time, rather than Tuanzebe as it was mid week. In the warm up, he, Bailly and Maguire set up as a back three. In the game, there were times where it looked as if they had little idea if there were to set up in a 4 man defence or 3 man defence. It was clear that United were not setting up usually because of the positioning with the attackers. Usually, with 4 man at the back, it would be Martial spearheading with Rashford, Bruno and James behind. Yet, on several occasions, you would see Martial and Rashford taking up half winger positions as they usually do when we play a 3-4-1-2. James was supposed to take up a wing back role but continually, he was being caught out by Castagne, with the Belgian making marauding runs. At times, it would shift were it would look more normal but it was a confusing system and it looked so for the team. The issue this system provides in build up, particularly when the players in the middle are Fred and McTominay, is that there are just less passing options when you look ahead. It is why normally you see a CB who is incredibly good on the ball within the back three, as there simply more options to pass to as they are further back. Unfortunately, between the CBs out there, Bailly is the best at progressing the ball and he doesn’t have the range that the best in a three man CB system would. This was only for the first half anyway. By the second, the team settled down definitively into a four man defence and United looked more comfortable in dealing with Leicester, who hadn’t actually caused much problems apart from the first 20 mins when they were causing problems down our right hand side
After his performance against Spurs, where he was trusted over Lindelof after a build up of good performances, then his injury that would keep him out for a month, plenty thought that would be the end of the Bailly at United. His contract is coming up to its end and a cutting of ties that was expected, maybe even in January. As it goes, an injury from Wan Bissaka would be an entry point for the Ivorian. Against Everton, he was excellent. His recovery ability is a prized asset in our centre backs given that it is something that many of our other options are incapable of. Again today, he was incredibly important, even with the two goals conceded. There was little he could do with both, only if for the first he flew out to pressurise Barnes as McTominay should have done. His ability on the ball was seen in the second goal, finding Cavani between the lines who would play in Bruno. If only it was performance in a win.
It was not a game for the spectators. There was very little in the way of quality in the game and a lot of that will be down the attackers having poorer games for both teams. But in terms of United stopping the opposition, a lot of it came from the Brazilian centre midfielder breaking up play across the pitch. It got to a point whereby it seemed as if Fred was having to do the job of himself and McTominay, such was the latter’s ineffectual play on both sides of possession.