With their bid for a top-four finish resuming on Saturday, Man Utd were handed a timely boost when it was confirmed Bruno Fernandes had signed a one-year contract extension running until 2026.
Original article published 5 September 2022
The Premier League is back following the international break this weekend and one of the stand-out games is at Old Trafford when United, who are sixth - four points behind Arsenal in fourth - host 10th-placed Leicester City at 17:30 on Saturday.
Fernandes will get a great reception from the Red Devils' faithful after penning a new deal which extends his stay at the club for a further year, with the option of another 12 months on top of that - and the news could help inspire Ralf Rangnick's side for the run-in.
The Portuguese, who has scored 49 goals in 117 matches in all competitions since joining from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, will surely be key for United if they are to finish the campaign strongly and claim a top-four place.
Arsenal (1/2) are in the driving seat for fourth as it stands, but Rangnick's (9/2) men can move above fifth-placed Tottenham (5/2) and to within a point of the Gunners with victory over Leicester, although they will have played two games more than Mikel Arteta's side - who go to Crystal Palace on Monday.
Spurs are not in action until Sunday against Newcastle United, so a win for United is vital as they look to put the pressure on their rivals for fourth place, who still include West Ham, two points and one place below, and Wolves - who are a further two points adrift in eighth.
The Hammers face Everton on Sunday, while Wolves take on Aston Villa in one of the 15:00 kick-offs on Saturday.
United's recent form has been patchy with just one win in their last five in all competitions, but they have won three of their last five league games, including an important 3-2 victory over Spurs in their most recent Premier League clash.
With the Fernandes news creating a positive vibe, the Red Devils will look to start strongly against Brendan Rodgers' team and a home win is available at 1/2, while the draw is 7/2.
Fernandes was not at his devastating best before the international breakm, but should return to club duty in buoyant mood after scoring twice in Portugal's 2-0 win over North Macedonia, a victory which sealed their place in this winter's World Cup in Qatar.
The 27-year-old, who has nine league goals and six assists so far this term, is 5/1 to score the first goal on Saturday and 13/10 to find the back of the net at any time.
Leicester have had a disappointing campaign to date, compared to the last two when they finished fifth, but Rodgers' side have won three of their last four Premier League games and still have at least two games in hand on all the teams above them.
A push for a top-six place looks too big an ask at this stage of the season, but they are well placed to at least secure a top-half finish.
As we enter the final two months of the season, there are also big games elsewhere at both ends of the table across Saturday with seven matches in total.
Title rivals Man City and Liverpool are among those in action against relegation-threatened Burnley and Watford.
The 12:30pm kick-off is at Anfield when the second-placed Reds host third-bottom Watford and Jurgen Klopp's side can move to the top of the table - albeit probably only briefly - with their 10th successive league victory.
A home win is 1/7, a draw is 8/1 and a shock victory for the Hornets, who are three points from safety, is 14/1.
If, as expected, Liverpool win, then the pressure falls on City to respond when they go to second-bottom Burnley at 15:00.
Pep Guardiola has seen his side's lead at the top whittled down to just a point over the past few months and we could be in for a thrilling title race over the course of April and May.
The Citizens were held to a 0-0 draw in their most recent away league game at Crystal Palace, but will be confident of victory over Burnley, on offer at 1/5, as the Clarets have lost their previous three games, all to nil.
Sean Dyche's side are in desperate need of points themselves, though, as they are 19th and four points behind Everton in 17th and a draw is available at 11/2.
Things are looking ominous for Norwich City as the Canaries remain bottom, eight points off safety, and Dean Smith's side are in dire relegation form having lost their last six games.
If they are to somehow pull off a miraculous escape then a win at similarly out-of-form Brighton is a must, with the Canaries 6/1 to claim all three points, while the draw 3/1.
After what has been a tough season for Leeds United, things are beginning to look up under American coach Jesse Marsch.
Following successive victories over Norwich and Wolves, the Whites have moved up to 16th, seven points clear of the bottom three.
A third win on the bounce will edge them closer to survival and they are 11/8 to get it at home to Southampton at 15:00, with the hosts 10/3 to edge victory by a one-goal margin.