Ole Gunnar Solskjaer begins the most challenging six weeks of his Old Trafford managerial tenure on Saturday afternoon with a tricky visit to Leicester City. Manchester United’s indifferent form has seen the Red Devils win just two out of their last six fixtures to pile the pressure on the club’s Norwegian coach.
The record Premier League champions go into round eight of the 2021/22 season in fourth place, two points behind pacesetters Chelsea who have accumulated 16 points. Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes are yet to find the form that has brought consecutive fifth place finishes and find themselves in the bottom half of the table.
Rodgers is not under scrutiny despite overseeing near identical form with United over the last month courtesy of his team’s impressive form over the last two seasons that culminated in a historic first ever FA Cup triumph.
Not so for Solskjaer, whose three years in the Old Trafford hot-seat have been a tale of near misses. The visit to the King Power Stadium has acquired a must win tag because, on paper, it’s the second easiest of United’s next ten fixtures.
The Red Devils will have one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League home tie against free scoring Italians, Atalanta of Bergamo; whom they face twice within the next fortnight.
United’s eight other fixtures between today and November 28 include ties against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal. Only the visit to Claudio Rainieri’s Watford is not considered a daunting matchup.
Already without injured World Cup winning defender Raphael Varane, Solskjaer is sweating over the fitness of defensive lynchpin Harry Maguire who missed England’s World Cup qualifiers against Hungary and Andorra.
He may have to pair Victor Linderof with Eric Bailly. Besides, Brazilian Fred and Uruguayan Edinson Cavani were involved in a qualifier on Friday morning UK time. Leicester are meanwhile without Wilfred Ndidi, Wesley Fofana and James Justin but expect Jonny Evans to feature.
Action commences with 2016 titlist Ranieri making his Watford bow against Liverpool in the early kick off.
Kop custodian Allison Becker is in contention despite only arriving back from international duty on Friday but mate Fabinho is definitely out.
Liverpool boss will demand maximum attention against the Hornets, who infamously ended his team’s unbeaten record in their title winning season. Champions Manchester City are also in action against winless Burnley but Pep Guardiola will be without Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus (fatigue) and injured Spaniard Ferran Torres.
Elsewhere, Gunners legend Patrick Vieira takes his resurgent Crystal Palace side to his old hunting ground, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
Before that, leaders Chelsea must negotiate a potential banana skin in the west London derby with Brentford whereas Norwich City seek their first victory when they entertain high flying Brighton Hove.
The matchups featuring Everton versus West Ham as well as Southampton against Leeds United promise goals plenty. Newcastle’s home match with Spurs may be Steve Bruce’s last match in charge.
Premier League upcoming Fixtures
-Watford v Liverpool,
-Leicester City v Man United,
-Manchester City v Burnley,
-Aston Villa v Wolves,
-Southampton v Leeds United,
-Brentford v Chelsea
-Everton v West Ham
-Newcastle Utd v Spurs
-Arsenal v Crystal Palace