Can Leicester City upset the odds against Manchester United?

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Manchester United travel to the King Power Stadium to face newly promoted Leicester City in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League with a renewed sense of optimism following last weekend's 4-0 thrashing of Queens Park Rangers.

The doom and gloom around Old Trafford has finally been lifted after Louis van Gaal's side recorded their first victory of the 2014/15 campaign, prompting many Red Devils supporters to simultaneously forget the four awful performances that preceded that emphatic win.

However, any fans anticipating a similarly resounding result against the Foxes should prepare for a possible reality-check because Nigel Pearson's side have already proved that they are no pushovers, having made a seamless transition back in the top-flight this term.

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Leicester have lost only one of their opening four league games - a 2-0 defeat away at Chelsea - having held Everton and Arsenal to draws at home, and also beating Stoke City 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium. Make no mistake, they will be tough opposition for Manchester United this weekend.

A resilient and hard-working side that is dangerous on the counter-attack, Van Gaal's players must beware the threat their forthcoming opponents will present, particularly given their own insecurities at the back.

In Leonardo Ulloa, Leicester have an in-form striker ready to capitalise on any uncertainty the visitors might display, and based on early showings are much more resolute and well-organised in defence than their goals against record (five conceded) suggests, meaning Manchester United's new-look attack will have to be at their best to break them down.

Lessons learned?

If the past 12 months has taught Red Devils fans anything then it's that there's no such thing as an easy three points in the Premier League, particularly in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Gone are the days where Manchester United cruise to a comfortable victory without even hitting third gear. Now, they must work tirelessly for every point.

The £59.7 million British record transfer of Angel di Maria from Real Madrid and the deadline day capture of Colombian striker Radamel Falcao has understandably raised expectation levels in recent weeks, with fellow summer signings Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind also still yet to fully make their presence felt.

But, fans must not get too far ahead of themselves and assume that all of Manchester United's problems that have affected them for the past 12 months will be resolved immediately by the outlandish spending during the recent transfer window.

Patience needed

It will take time for Van Gaal to rectify the weaknesses in his recently-inherited squad, and despite his mightily impressive managerial record at illustrious clubs such as Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the Dutchman is not a miracle worker, capable of delivering results straight away.

Thankfully, the 63-year-old's football philosophy has - given the necessary amount of time to implement - produced notably more success than failure, with an emphasis also placed on developing youth, which is akin to the values and ideologies shared by Manchester United football club.

However, with an obvious dearth of up-and-coming talent currently residing in the youth ranks at Old Trafford it might well be a few years before they start to benefit from Van Gaal's approach, and is part of the reason why they've perhaps spent so much money on new players to fast-track straight into the first-team.

Despite the obvious promise that the former Holland head coach's tenure brings long-term, it's still something that will take time to take affect and so supporters must be patient during this period of transition and not expect too much too soon from the newly-formed squad.

Weekend encounter

This weekend's match will be a good marker to see how much progress Manchester United have made since their disappointing results against Swansea City, Sunderland and Burnley prior to the international break, but don't expect Leicester to be beaten in the same way that QPR rolled over and accepted defeat last weekend.

Another victory will form a solid basis for the Red Devils to build upon, and their lack of European football this season should also eventually benefit them in their pursuit of a top four finish in the Premier League.

In reality though, Manchester United are not the powerhouses they once were and, even after a number of high-profile additions, remain some way off a serious title challenge with Chelsea and Manchester City both boasting stronger squads.

Leicester City should reinforce United's reformed status and remove any misplaced confidence among their supporters with a (not so) shocking result this weekend.

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Leicester City
Manchester United
Premier League

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