Leicester City vs Manchester United Match Analysis

Solskjaer is finally happy
Solskjaer at the touchline after Lingard's goal in the final minute. The season was hard, but he finally did it. (Image from SomtoSports)

It was a fierce clash between The Foxes and Red Devils, where the latter sealed the victory and confirmed a Champions League spot for the next season. The evening was an epitome of Manchester United and Leicester City’s roller-coaster seasons and both teams had their few moments to go-ahead of another.

So, how did The Foxes get trapped? What tricks did the Devils pull off this time? Let’s find out in the match analysis –

First-half: Patience of The Foxes against the domination of the Devils -

Rogers started Leicester with their classic 3-5-2 on paper but played in a 5-3-2 on the field. On the other hand, Manchester United started with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. While Manchester United missed Luke Shaw, their concerns were less detrimental than for Leicester, who saw many absentees from their ranks. 

Leicester City Lineup
Leicester City Lineup (Image from Google)

Manchester United Lineup
Manchester United Lineup (Image from Google)

As the game began, The Foxes decided to sit back, allowing United to take the ball while sitting behind and waiting for the opportunity to go forwards on the counter-attack. Manchester United happily kept possession and tried creating chances one after the other before Fernandes finally slotted home from a beautifully lofted pass by Pogba. But the goal was ruled offside. United saw a couple more chances, one of which saw Martial’s shot getting deflected at the near post, while the other was again a lofted pass by Paul Pogba to Marcus Rashford, who failed to keep it on target under pressure from Leicester's defenders.

Gradually, Leicester City started getting back in the game and created a couple of counter-attacking chances that ended up in Vardy and Tielemans seeing their shots getting blocked. While Vardy’s chance was a counter-attack one, Tielemans got his opportunity as a courtesy of a sloppy pass by Matic. At the end of the half, both teams went down the tunnel, thinking that a draw might actually be a comfortable result for both sides, but the Chelsea vs Wolves game had other plans in this story.

Notable points from first-half:

  1. While United had more possession, they had less territory and failed to create quality chances. Stats might favour United, but the most crucial stat – the scoreline, remained unharmed.
  2. Leicester recognised that United are not as good at creating against deep blocks as they are on the counter-attack, and with Pogba & Fernandes fatigued, they decided to sit back to stop United from playing to their usual strengths. This screams for squad depth, and we need to replenish our team with better players so that the best ones get enough rest.
  3. While Matic is a pivot to this United team, we certainly need someone more mobile when playing against a counter-attacking side. His misplaced passes could’ve landed us in trouble before the break.

Second-half: Devil's bait for the Fox - 

When the teams came out of the tunnel in the second half, they knew that Chelsea were comfortably leading in their fixture, and the team which wins this game gets the European glory. And this is when Rogers finally decided to flip the switch and turn on an attacking gameplan. But this is also where Rogers got it wrong. Allow me to explain how –

Brendan Rogers’ Leicester City play a typical 3-5-2 in attacking mode, but this system is a make or break deal against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 high press system that pushes players forward and tries to pressurize the central defender in the back 3 of the 3-5-2 formation. This is what Manchester United are good at, and the moment they decided to attack, they had played straight into our hands.

The moment Leicester started with their attacking mode, deep blocks got deformed, and United players got their chance to implement a high press. While Ndidi put in a good shift during the first half, things got difficult for him in the second one due to 5 forwards rushing at him at once.

As the game moved on, Leicester deteriorated, and finally, the moment came.

Leicester tried to play it from back, but United pressed them back and Mason Greenwood pressured the defender that led to a wrong pass, and the ball falling at feet of Bruno Fernandes -

High press
United creating pressure on Leicester with high-press. (Image from Man United channel on YouTube)

Sliding in the ball
Greenwood's tackle forced Chaudhary into blunder. (Image from Man United channel on YouTube)

Fernandes cleverly slid in the pass for Martial, who made a run into the Leicester City box, and this happened -

Martial tackled in the box
Jonny Evans and Wes Morgan committed a nasty foul to concede penalty. (Image from Sky Sports)

The foul saw Jonny Evans getting a yellow card, and then, Bruno Fernades, as usual, rose to the occasion and converted the penalty for United in the clutch moment, putting them in the driving seat for the journey to Champions League football.

After this, Leicester tried to attack as hard as possible but lacked the quality, and Victor Lindelof wasn’t being easy on them either. The Swedish defender had a fantastic game with a 100% success rate in duels and making blocks, making The Foxes even more restless. To cope with Leicester’s push, Solskjaer introduced Scott McTominay and Jesse Lingard in place of Fernandes and Mason Greenwood. While Lingard may have been abysmal throughout the season, his energy and runs certainly made Leicester push into backward gear and pressured Jonny Evans to make more fouls that saw him getting red card from Martin Atkinson.

In the final moments of the game, when both sets of squads were getting tired, Leicester tried giving it one more shot and decided to play from the back again. Alas, they had forgotten that Lingard had fresh legs and a desire to prove himself. He saw Schmeichel trying to come out with ball alone, and suddenly made a leap for it. Schmeichel lost the ball to Lingard and making no mistake, Lingard rolled the ball into an empty net, scoring his first league goal of the season in the last minute of the season.


Notable points from second-half:

  1. Victor Lindelof is a world-class defender on his good day. The only trait he lacks is physicality to win the duels.
  2. The system we play requires high energy levels, and therefore, the squad needs to be rotated and should have players that are high on stamina as that doesn't let the system switch off.
  3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is good in the defensive half and the attacking half but is awful at transitioning, and needs support to get at either end. He needs to work on this because if Sancho comes to United, this lack of transition can put a huge burden on him and might not get us the results we desire from the duo.
To conclude the season's last league analysis, it was not the fairy tale ending Manchester United fans would have wanted, but it was easily one of the best season conclusions in the last seven years. With Champions League waiting next season, we hope to see the board make their moves and get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the players he wants, because-
Ole's at the wheel, tell me how good does it feel.

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