Premier League leaders Leicester City welcome second-placed Manchester United to the King Power Stadium on Saturday and Claudio Ranieri is intrigued to see how his players cope in the spotlight.
Star striker Jamie Vardy is hoping to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s goalscoring record by netting for an 11th consecutive Premier League game when he faces the Dutchman’s former side.
Vardy’s performances have gone a long way to securing a dream start to 2015-16 for the pre-season relegation candidates, with 28 points and the same number of goals scored from their opening 13 games.
Leicester boss Ranieri is still insisting the initial target is to reach 40 points and secure safety but feels his players deserve their current position at the top of the pile and looks forward to seeing how they cope with the test of facing United, who they beat 5-3 in the corresponding fixture last year.
“I am very curious about how we respond to these big matches,” he said.
“We know that sooner or later we will lose but we just want to show our great character. The spirit of our group is so strong.
“Saturday is a great challenge for us to improve. We have had good matches but we also have weaknesses and we have to cover them. We are top of the table and in this moment I think we deserve it, but this is another match to understand where we can improve.
“I think we are building a very big construction. I believe in the next year Leicester will grow. We are very happy.
“Some people say Leicester can remain at the top, others say it is just a moment. I am glad for the fans but we are just focused. It is an open season but our goal is 40 points.”
United dramatically won 2-1 against Watford last time out in the league, but were held to a disappointing 0-0 home draw by PSV in the Champions League on Wednesday to leave their qualification hopes hanging in the balance.
Ashley Young is eager to rebound from that setback with a victory against the table-toppers, which would see his side end the weekend in first place.
“Leicester are the leaders, so this is a top-of-the-table clash,” he told MUTV.
“We will be looking to keep up the good form we have shown in the league over the last few weeks, and hopefully get the three points.
“There is a lot of disappointment around the place, we have just got to pick ourselves up now and go again at the weekend.
“With the chances we created against PSV, we felt we should have won the game.”
Matty James (knee) is Leicester’s only injury concern. United are without long-term absentees Luke Shaw (leg) and Antonio Valencia (foot), while they will check on the progress of Michael Carrick (foot), Ander Herrera (hamstring), Phil Jones (ankle) and James Wilson (knee) ahead of the game.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester United have won 10 of the last 11 Barclays Premier League matches against Leicester City, but the exception was this fixture last season which the Foxes won 5-3.
– In winning that game, Leicester became the only team in Premier League history to come from two goals down to beat United.
– There have been 18 goals scored in the last four Premier League meetings between these two sides.
– The Foxes have recovered more points from losing positions (10) than any other team in the Premier League this season.
– The Red Devils have lost just one of their last nine Premier League matches (W6 D2 L1).
– The Foxes have now scored in 14 successive Premier League matches and are the only side to find the back of the net in all 13 of their PL games this season.
– These two sides met at Filbert Street when Leicester were top of the Premier League back in October 2000, with the Red Devils winning 3-0 on their way to winning the title (the Foxes finished 13th).