Three 1st half goals, including an own goal, are enough to lift the Red Devils to 3rd place in the Premier League following Southampton’s loss to Swansea on Sunday.
After a dull opening 25 minutes, Robin van Persie was able to find the back of the next after being assisted from Daley Blind. This was soon followed by Radamel Falcao’s goal from close range in a scramble in the box before Wes Morgan headed a ball into his own net right before the half time whistle to give Manchester United a 3-0 lead going into the break. Marcin Wasilewsk then scored for Leicester 10 minutes from time, but it was only consolation.
The big questions after this match are, is Manchester United quality enough to secure a spot in the Champions League and after being 4 points from safety with 15 games to go is there any way back from bottom of the table for Leicester City?
The answer to both questions should be: No.
Manchester United are not much a better team than last year, and coming into the match they were level on points from their performance last year in which they finished 7th. Their ability to drop games to the sides of Leicester (5-3 at the King Power Stadium earlier in the season, unlike this result) and Southampton (their 1-0 loss) show that the side are lacking pace. Particularly I would say that the 71% possession they enjoyed from this game only earning them 12 shots, 5 of which were actually on target, leaves more to be desired. The 4-3 corner split in favour of Man United indicates that Leicester were able to at least get the ball deep into the attacking third and towards the byline with their possession, despite only having 26 minutes on the ball. For Manchester United’s 4 corners in the opposing 64 minutes, it means that a lot of the game was played in the midfield. This was particularly on show in the dull 1-0 loss to Southampton, and Robin van Persie seems to have lost the pace that scored him 30 goals in a season for Arsenal a number of seasons ago. Quite frankly, the frontline is dated at Old Trafford. Falcao is not given enough time as the lead striker, a role Wayne Rooney is arguably filling better than van Persie at the moment, and the need to bring in a young and talented striker the likes of say, Daniel Sturridge, is on display more and more as the weeks go by. That’s not to say Man U are a bad side, but they need more attacking options and that lack of pace and their inability to inject it from the bench will lose them more games this season, probably enough to see them pipped out of the top four by Southampton or Arsenal, not that the Saints’ loss helps their matters, but definitely since the Gunners seem to be firing on all cylinders.
For Leicester the future looks bleak. A limited budget is always going to doom clubs to the bottom half of the table, and while I still think Ulloa is a good signing for the club, the Foxes failed to strengthen enough areas. The likes of Morgan, Drinkwater, King, Schlupp, Nugent, Konchesky, Upson, and Cambiasso, while all quality players, are ones that have made a living off Championship football for quite a number of seasons. In fact, a lot of the current squad was found playing together 3 seasons ago when they owned players like Jermaine Beckford, who made a living out of League One side Leeds United. They just lack quality: quality players, quality passing, quality set-pieces and their manager, Nigel Pearson, while good was not ready for the Premier League style of play. Leicester were given a golden opportunity to dump him after his row with a fan, one that ultimately got him fined and banned for 1 game, but the board stuck by him and the side still look stale. Would it have been a good choice to sack Pearson at the time? Maybe not, but as Steve McManaman said while Germany were thrashing Brazil in the World Cup semi-final this past summer “at some point you just have to go out and do something, kick somebody, throw yourself into a tackle, just do something”. The point is very much the same; Leicester currently show up week after week but aren’t going anyway with their style of play and it is hurting them as it’s just not good enough for the Premier League.
Leicester will host Crystal Palace this weekend while Manchester United are at Upton Park to take on West Ham United.