Unless Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is planning on dropping Juan Mata, his most senior specialist number 10, after the Spaniard’s fine goal-scoring appearance against QPR last time out, it’s difficult to see where Robin van Persie will fit into the gaffer’s thinking at Leicester.
United’s shock deadline-day loan signing Radamel Falcao is expected to make his first start for the club at the King Power Stadium and can be backed at 7/2 favourite odds to break the deadlock on full debut.
Meanwhile, new skipper Wayne Rooney is a near-certainty to be in from the off after Van Gaal stated ‘my captain shall always play’ in midweek. The 28-year-old is 9/2 to notch the opener.
Where this leaves Van Persie is unclear, as the Dutch striker’s former national team coach is highly unlikely to go with three up front against Nigel Pearson’s side.
Van Gaal indicated as much during the week, when insisting that Van Persie and Falcao could indeed play together, while insisting he has five players (Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson were mentioned as the others) for two centre-forward positions.
It was something of a shock that Rooney was named captain at Old Trafford, after the ‘Iron Tulip’ gave the Holland armband to Van Persie during the World Cup, where the Oranje finished third having gone out on penalties to Argentina in the semi-finals.
However, the 31-year-old was not Van Gaal’s first choice to lead his compatriots on the pitch; Kevin Strootman had that honour until the March injury that ruled the midfielder out of the samba jamboree.
In fact, Strootman became the youngest Holland captain for over a hundred years – at just 22-years-old – when he skippered his side for the first time in October 2012 against Andorra, which suggests Van Gaal does not hold Van Persie in as high regard as many believed when he took over at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils gaffer may yet spring something of a shock by benching Mata and dropping Rooney back to number 10, with winger Angel Di Maria and midfielder Ander Herrera tasked with even greater creative responsibilities than in the 4-0 victory over the Super Hoops.
Everything Van Gaal has said this week makes that seem unlikely though, so backing Falcao at 7/2 to bag an opener, his first for the club, rates the bet to be on in the east midlands.
For those who disagree, Van Persie can be backed at 4/1 to break the deadlock with his first strike of the campaign.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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