PREMIER LEAGUE expert Ben Levene (@benlevene96) shares his views on Friday night's curtain-raiser between Manchester United and Leicester City.
Manchester United v Leicester | Friday 10th August 2018, 20:00 | Sky Sports
For the second consecutive season, the Premier League season gets underway on a Friday night. Like last year, Leicester are involved – this time they travel to Old Trafford.
There have been worrying murmurs at Manchester United of late. Jose Mourinho is clearly not happy.
Transfer business has been chaotic. The Red Devils have been desperately chasing a centre-back – not that it was an area that needed addressing anyway. United boasted the divisions second-best defensive record last season, and that speaks volumes of Mourinho’s approach.
Old Trafford record
Jose will unashamedly approach games negatively, and you get the impression that it is beginning to take its toll on the Old Trafford faithful.
Since Mourinho took charge, 24 of 38 (63%) Premier League games at Old Trafford have seen Under 2.5 Goals. Only Man City have scored more than the single goal during that sample.
Within that time, United boast a home record of W23-D12-L3. What’s eye-catching there is that 32% of matches have been drawn.
Mourinho has already confirmed that Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valenia, Nemanja Matic, and Ander Herrera will miss Friday’s opener. You’d imagine all barring maybe the latter, all would have been starters.
It gets further worrying for Man Utd fans. Ahead of Friday, Mourinho stated: “You cannot have the players that arrived on the last Monday, after the World Cup semi-finals, finals and three weeks of holiday – you cannot expect them to be fit.”
Jose is referring to Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and Romelu Lukaku – three of United’s most influential players.
Foxes can fire
Leicester’s W4-D3-L7 away record under Claude Puel doesn’t really spark much of a reaction, but perhaps they are more capable than that record suggests.
The Foxes have scored in 12 of 14 travels under the Frenchman, including trips away at Man City, Liverpool, and Spurs. Moreover, they’ve scored two or more goals in seven of those 14 games, which is pretty impressive stuff.
Leicester are dangerous. Given United seem undercooked, and are generally involved in low-scoring games, if Puel’s side can notch, they have a live chance. United don’t score too many.
In addition, Leicester are likely to be brave this Friday. Kasper Schmeichel suggested earlier this week:“We’ve classically been a counter-attacking type of side. The manager now wants us to try and take a little bit more control of the game, to try and dominate possession a little bit more”.
The Asian Handicap angle
As already mentioned, United have drawn 32% of home league games under Mourinho. Outside the top-six there are few sides more able than Leicester and so I am happy to back them with a +1 Asian Handicap start at an attractive 31/25 (Blacktype).
It sees our bet paid as a winner if the Foxes win or draw, whilst our stake is refunded should United win by the single-goal.
Manchester United v Leicester – Leicester +1 Asian Handicap (31/25 Blacktype)