PILING UP:  Jose Mourinho, right, watches Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo, top, and Wayne Rooney in action against Northampton’s Sam Hoskins. Mourinho and Rooney are both under pressure to deliver when United host champions Leicester on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS
PILING UP: Jose Mourinho, right, watches Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo, top, and Wayne Rooney in action against Northampton’s Sam Hoskins. Mourinho and Rooney are both under pressure to deliver when United host champions Leicester on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS

LONDON — After successive Premier League defeats, Manchester United will hope to re-energise their faltering campaign and make up ground on the early pacesetters with victory at home to champions Leicester City on Saturday.

After losing to leaders Manchester City and Watford, either side of a Champions League defeat to Feyenoord, United already trail Pep Guardiola’s vibrant City by six points and sit in seventh place.

Manager Jose Mourinho has spoken about his new charges reacting badly to "negativity", which some observers felt he increased with public criticism of defender Luke Shaw after the 3-1 defeat by Watford last weekend.

A 3-1 win over Northampton Town in the League Cup on Wednesday prevented a fourth consecutive defeat, but it was not an entirely convincing United performance against the third-tier outfit.

At the same time, Mourinho lashed out at football’s "Einsteins" for criticising him during United’s poor run.

Despite winning the first four games of his tenure, Mourinho has come under scrutiny from the media after United’s slump in form. "We had a bad week. I know that the world is full of Einsteins, I know that they tried to delete 16 years of my career," Mourinho told MUTV, the club’s in-house television station.

"They tried to delete an unbelievable history of Manchester United Football Club and to focus on a bad week with three bad results.

"But that’s the new football, it’s full of Einsteins," he said.

United have been given the chance to redeem their recent defeat to City after being drawn to face them at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the League Cup.

With home games against Leicester, Russian side FC Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League and Stoke City coming up, Mourinho hopes his side can regain some of their lost momentum in the coming weeks.

"We have three home matches now in a row and it is always good to be at home," he said. "If the fans have been disappointed with the last week, I understand completely, but I am sure they will be behind the team like they always are."

There will be particular interest in Mourinho’s team selection against Leicester on Saturday and whether England and United captain Wayne Rooney, who has been in poor form, keeps his place.

City, having won their first five league games under Guardiola to top the table, visit Swansea City for the second time in four days, after Guardiola’s side won 2-1 in a League Cup tie on Wednesday.

Striker Sergio Aguero will be available after completing a three-match suspension, although City scored six goals without him in the two league matches he missed against United and Bournemouth.

Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, the two other unbeaten sides at second and third, respectively, both face long trips on Saturday. Everton go to the south coast to face Bournemouth, who are in the bottom four but held them 3-3 in one of the most dramatic games of last season, with four goals in the last 10 minutes.

Tottenham, missing injured England striker Harry Kane, travel to the north-east to face Middlesbrough, who started well before losing their last two games.

Arsene Wenger, named as Arsenal manager 20 years ago this week, will hope to celebrate with victory in the London derby at home to Chelsea.

Antonio Conte’s side slipped up at home to Liverpool last Friday to drop to fifth place before impressing the manager by recovering from 2-0 down to win a League Cup tie 4-2 at Leicester.

Liverpool’s victory at Stamford Bridge took them up to sixth and they will be fancied for a third successive league victory at home to Hull City.

The only two clubs without a win both have home games with mid-table opposition: Sunderland, 2-1 winners over Queens Park Rangers in midweek, against Crystal Palace, and Stoke City against West Bromwich Albion.

Reuters