With Leicester City lucky to have avoided relegation last season, nobody could have predicted they would be top of the Premier League table heading into the final weekend in November.
Favourites to get related back in March, it has been a mixture of fighting spirit embedded into the side by the comically agressive Nigel Pearson; followed up with the tactical nous of tinkerman Claudio Ranieri which has seen the Foxes climb the table.
With the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez troubling defenders every week; accompanied by the very safe and very solid Kasper Schmeichel and Wes Morgan as the last line of defence – the boys in blue have done enough to justify their success is anything but a fluke.
This weekend see’s Manchester United head to the King Power stadium in a top of the table clash – and one which nobody from Old Trafford is taking for granted.
Like Leicester, United have surprised a few people with their staying power. Not many predicted the red side of Manchester would look a more serious title contender than their noisy neighbours– and whilst the football has not been riveting, it has been consistent.
The Faithful’s Nathon Woodhead takes a look at five key moments between these two sides from the Premier League era.
Whilst Leicester City vs Manchester United may not be regarded as a great spectacle; nor possess the glamour or prestige of a Liverpool or Chelsea encounter – it is certainly worthy of our respect.
1997 Ole Does It Again
A complete unknown arriving at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went on to be the clubs top scorer with 18 goals that season – two of which came away at Leicester as the title race drew to a close.
Having won away at title rivals Liverpool in the prior fixture – United were about to undo all of the hard work and let Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal back in the hunt, finding themselves 2-0 to Martin O’Neills men at half time. Step up the Norwegian striker to fire a quick double and salvage a valuable point on the road.
1998 Our Hero David
After seeing red at the 1998 World Cup, David Beckham fell victim to a world of abuse from football supporters across the country. Rumours suggested he would leave the Premier League for a quieter life abroad… however the one thing Becks had never done was shy away from attention.
Opening game of the 1998/99 campaign and again United found themselves 2-0 at home to Leicester. Sheringham pulled a late goal back before Beckham put away a 94th minute free-kick to the delight of the Old Trafford faithful.
Becks stuck with United, and United stuck by him.
1999 Jip Jaap Stam
Same season, but six months on and United were on fire. Travelling to Leicester had always been a tough place to go – but with Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole proving to be the hottest strike force in Europe at the time, it came as no surprise that the reds found themselves 5-2 ahead going into the latter stages.
In the final minute of the match – the show was completely stolen by big centre half Jaap Stam who scored what proved to be his only goal for United.
2001 Barthez Up To His Old Tricks
Fabien Barthez will go down in history as one of the most eccentric footballers of his generation.
From the sublime to the ridiculous – the French goalkeeper could win your heart and break it within moments.
United were leading 1-0 when Leicester were awarded a penalty. Muzzy Izzet put the ball away but Bathez did not move, and remained on his line cleaning the mud from his boots.
Furious with the referee’s decision to have the penalty retaken now the bald shot stopper was finally ready – Barthez saved the second attempt.
Un-sporting or genuine? To this day nobody knows.
2004 A Rare Gary Neville Goal
2004 may have been the beginning of a troubled few years for Manchester United (better known as the Djemba-Djemba years) – but it still served up some great moments for the fans.
For new fans entering into the beautiful game – Sky Sports’ Gary Neville hasn’t always been as adored as he is nowadays.
The intelligent and articulate pundit was once upon a time one of the most hated players in the country.
Not because he had done too much wrong; but he was simply annoying. A very good defender playing for a team he supported as a child – so often wore his heart on his sleeve which bugged a lot of people.
This particular clash against Leicester was certainly one to forget – but the stand out moment had to be Neville scoring the winner. He didn’t get many, and when he did they were usually rubbish – so to turn up as the match winner was a special moment.
…..Special mention must go to the snake – Angel Di Maria.
Before the Argentine lost his bottle and decided to give up trying whilst in United colours – he produced a couple of moments of absolute brilliance; one of which was his lop against Leicester.
United lost the match 5-3, but this goal was a real beaut.