Did you enjoy that last week? Did you? Hmm? Think it’s funny to kick the s*** out of a team who were so submissive they looked as if they’d been told by Austin Powers Snr. to “just lie down, son, just lie down”? Good for you, you big bully.
Because let’s not kid ourselves – QPR were absolutely appalling last weekend. Harry Redknapp’s apparent tactic of inviting pressure and allowing Angel di Maria, Daley Blind and the rest of the new signings as much time and space as possible to settle into their home débuts gave the team the punching-bag confidence boost they needed.
Leicester City, however, will not be so obliging on Sunday afternoon. Taking into account the two sides’ differing expectations, Nigel Pearson and his players have started well and United have started badly; both have identical records with two draws, a loss and a win.
The Foxes’ defeat was arguably an unlucky one away to Chelsea and hard-fought draws have been prised from Everton and Arsenal. Last week they took advantage of a wasteful Stoke strikeforce and came away from the Britannia with 3 points, which also owed much to the defensive organisation of captain Wes Morgan. They also boast an in-form striker in Leonardo Ulloa, whose second-half winner last weekend was his third in four matches.
Formation wise it’s difficult to see van Gaal changing anything from last weekend’s 4-3-1-2 system considering it worked better than any of the 3-5-2 setups.
On the few occasions that QPR came forward at Old Trafford, we looked far from solid. David de Gea’s terrible Manuel Neuer impression aside, there was some panicky moments and should Van Gaal name unchanged side Tyler Blackett and Jonny Evans will need to keep a close eye on Ulloa whose size and strength could potentially pose a problem, especially for the relatively slender Blackett.
Daley Blind looked more than comfortable sitting at the back of the diamond, Ander Herrera was arguably the best player on the pitch next to Di Maria and Juan Mata will probably still be on an adrenaline surge from his goal. Breaking down Leicester will be tougher than breaking down the abject QPR but if the pace and precision of movement and passing can continue, there could be reason to expect a few goals.
The only concern I had with the front line against QPR was the body language of Robin van Persie. There was a creeping sense of disinterest from the Dutchman, as if all the new arrivals had put his nose out of joint ever so slightly. Like all strikers in his situation, he needs a goal – otherwise he could find himself dropped in favour of Falcao whose charming, boyish passion for scoring contrasts with the somewhat moody Van Persie.
Knowing van Gaal’s attention to detail, defending has probably been a focus of training last week. Luke Shaw may be available to start – van Gaal could shift Marcus Rojo into the middle with Evans and replace Blackett with Shaw. United will also need to contend with a loud and excitable King Power Stadium but with the in-form power we have going forward, there can be few excuses for walking away with anything other than a win.
Prediction: Leicester 1-3 United
Different prediction? Think van Gaal will change things up already? Chip in on the comments.