5 players key to Manchester United winning at Leicester

Juan Mata

How Manchester United can win at table-topping Leicester City this evening...

Heading into the weekend, Leicester City and Manchester United are the top two in the Premier League as they are set to meet at the King Power Stadium in Saturday's evening kickoff.

This may not be a top two clash by 17:30, depending on the result at the Etihad between Manchester City and Southampton in an earlier kickoff, but it certainly has the making of an excellent game.

Leicester City produced a stunning 5-3 victory in this fixture last season, becoming the first and only team to beat Manchester United after trailing by two goals in the Premier League era.

Today's match has more than three points resting on it as Leicester City's Jamie Vardy could set a new Premier League record. The England international is on a streak of 10 consecutive games with a goal, tied with former United great Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Vardy scored in the 5-3 victory between these two last season.

Although they looked sluggish in drawing 0-0 at home to PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League midweek, Louis van Gaal's side are rightfully the favourites for this match. Although the Dutch manager has got them looking woeful in the final third of late, there are some very good matchups for them.

Here are five players who can win the game for Manchester United today:

Juan Mata

Assuming the Spaniard returns to the starting lineup and plays on the right wing, where he has been deployed for most of this season, Juan Mata is set to lineup against Christian Fuchs. The left-back is one of Leicester's weakest points – the Austrian is very attack-minded and not the best of defenders. The same can be said of Claudio Ranieri's backup option, Jeffrey Schlupp (why is youngster Ben Chilwell not getting a chance?!?).

Juan Mata is United's best playmaker and even leads the team in both goals and assists this season. He has a favourable matchup against both the Leicester left-back and the defence in general, and he may well be among the goals this evening.

Chris Smalling

Leicester City are the only team to have scored in all 13 of their Premier League matches this season and given that Manchester United haven't been firing the goals in freely of late, they're going to need some good defending. Chris Smalling has been the star at the back for Louis van Gaal's side this season and will likely have the duty of denying Jamie Vardy a Premier League record.

Vardy's movement and finishing have been excellent this season which makes it an exciting matchup between the two England internationals.

David de Gea

Manchester United have only conceded two goals in their last nine games in all competitions – both from the penalty spot. David de Gea has been excellent between the posts once again for United since starting his season in September, but this season he's also being helped out by a much stronger defence.

The Spaniard should be tested by Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, and though Leonardo Ulloa only has one goal in his seven appearances this season, the Argentine did score a brace in this fixture last season.

Anthony Martial

Expecting Anthony Martial to start up top again, with Wayne Rooney filling in at number 10 for the injured Ander Herrera. This would likely mean benching Memphis Depay once again, but he did nothing against PSV Eindhoven midweek in the hour he got before he was pulled off.

Anthony Martial has good pace to run at both Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Leicester's defending hasn't been very special this season so the French striker must be confident of getting sights on goal versus the son of a Manchester United legend, Kasper Schmeichel.

Jesse Lingard

One of Manchester United's better players this month, Jesse Lingard has earned himself a recent England call-up and reports of a new contract at Old Trafford. He scored his first Premier League goal against West Brom last weekend and is looking for another this weekend to cap off an excellent November.

Danny Simpson is the Leicester right-back and the United forward's movement and running into space could really cause both Simpon and the centre-backs some problems. He's shown he likes to have a shot at goal (he showed that a bit too much at Derby County last season!) and as one fo the four attacking players United have, the visitors certainly have the quality to break the Premier League leaders down.

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