Premier League: Vardy eyes record against United

All eyes will be on Leicester striker Jamie Vardy on Saturday when he tries to become the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League games in a top-of-the-table showdown with Manchester United.

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy was on target in their 5-3 win over Manchester United last season.   -  AP

All eyes will be on Leicester striker Jamie Vardy on Saturday when he tries to become the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League games in a top-of-the-table showdown with Manchester United.

Vardy equalled the record held since 2003 by former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy when he took his scoring streak into double figures with one of Leicester's goals in their 3-0 win at Newcastle last Saturday.

While Vardy can't stop scoring, with 13 goals in the league so far this season, United are struggling to find the net. Their 19 goals in 13 league games is the lowest total in the top seven and their struggles in front of goal are threatening to undermine their hopes of winning a first trophy since 2013.

United's failure to score against Championship side Middlesbrough saw Louis van Gaal's side go out of the League Cup on penalties last month and, potentially more seriously, another blank on Wednesday against PSV Eindhoven could prove costly to their Champions League prospects.

“Of course I am worried,” admitted van Gaal about United's lack of potency in front of goal. Van Gaal's perceived style of play, lacking tempo and a creative edge, has come in for criticism from supporters and pundits.

City hoping to get back on track

From a position of strength at the top of the Premier League a week ago, Manchester City suddenly face a test of their staying power against Southampton on Saturday.

City's shock 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool last Saturday saw them surrender the lead in the title race, with manager Manuel Pellegrini admitting the performance had been the worst he had seen since his arrival at Eastlands two-and-a-half years ago.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart sustained a hamstring injury in the loss against Juventus in midweek that forced the England international to be replaced by Willy Caballero. Hart is crucial to City's fortunes and his injury is the latest to inflict Pellegrini's squad, which suddenly looks vulnerable.

Captain and defensive leader Vincent Kompany has been badly missed and faces another fortnight out with a calf problem. David Silva's absence has been just as badly felt, with the Spaniard's creativity in tandem with top scorer Sergio Aguero, who is yet to play 90 minutes since returning from a seven-match spell out with a hamstring injury, denying City a major weapon. Defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Eliaquim Mangala were also absent for the midweek European tie to leave City's squad severely stretched.

But Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is not looking for excuses and he knows City are capable of going back to the head of the Premier League with the top two of Leicester and Manchester United playing each other this weekend.

“We have a fantastic squad. We had quite a lot of injuries from important players but we have to live with that,” Toure said. “We have to forget this game (at Juventus) and try to bounce back in the league.”

Ronald Koeman's Southampton, beaten at home by Stoke last weekend, have seen their hopes of increasing the pressure on the top six take a blow after Jay Rodriguez was told he faces another lay-off following foot surgery.

The striker only recently returned to full fitness after missing the whole of last season with a knee ligament injury and will now be sidelined for two months.

“Jay had the surgery last Tuesday and we are happy about that, because that was the best to do. That was a good final decision to do that, but then you know he's maybe out for seven to eight weeks,” Koeman said.

“But we don't have other injuries and the team is fit, the team is doing good training sessions and that's always important to have a good feeling for the Saturday game.”

With Graziano Pelle also missing while he serves a one-match suspension, Koeman's forward options will be stretched for the trip to Eastlands.

Saturday’s fixtures

Aston Villa vs Watford, Bournemouth vs Everton, Crystal Palace vs Newcastle, Manchester City vs Southampton, Sunderland vs Stoke, Leicester City vs Manchester United.

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