Ranieri has faith in his strikers
Ranieri counting on Slimani, Vardy and Mahrez to slay Red Devils
MAN UNITED v LEICESTER CITY
(Tonight, 7.25pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & StarHub TV Ch 228 - Eleven Plus HD)
Even as Leicester City struggle to replicate last season's title-winning form, manager Claudio Ranieri continues to put up a brave front.
The footballing world thinks the Foxes will struggle to finish in the top four this term, let alone retain their crown. But Ranieri's faith in his unfancied men remains steadfast, his confidence unwavering.
Tonight, the wily Italian leads his troops to face Manchester United, fallen giants who are determined to reclaim the English Premier League throne under Jose Mourinho.
At Old Trafford, United will parade a star-studded forward line, with the manager pondering over his choices from a pool comprising Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney.
Whoever he picks, it's a mouth-watering strikeforce, at least on paper. But Ranieri wouldn't swop any of his players for the high-profile names in a United shirt.
He is certain his own attacking line-up is more than a match for their opponents.
He said, ahead of the clash: "I love my players and I won't change them for other players.
"I'm very pleased with them and we can have a very good campaign this season."
UNLEASH THE FOXY TRIO
Against the Red Devils, Ranieri is set to unleash his very own three-pronged assault - Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani.
He is banking on the trio to prove just about everyone wrong.
Late bloomer Vardy, 29, still packs a mighty punch.
Last season's Premiership second-highest scorer with 24 goals has two from his first five games and is continuing to put in impressive performances.
Like Vardy, Mahrez was expected to leave for greener pastures after an outstanding 2015/16 campaign, which prompted Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez to rate the reigning PFA Players' Player of the Year as good enough to play for the Catalan club.
Ranieri performed a miracle in persuading Mahrez and other key players to stay put at the King Power Stadium despite plenty of interest from big clubs, with the exception of N'Golo Kante who left for Chelsea.
The 25-year-old Mahrez started this season slowly but has since rediscovered his form, following his two-goal display in the 3-0 Champions League victory over Club Brugge 10 days ago.
Slimani, 28, is Ranieri's latest ace, signed from Sporting Lisbon for a club-record fee of £29 million ($51.1m).
Two headed goals in his Premier League debut in the 3-0 win against Burnley last week suggest the 1.88m-tall striker is not wasting time settling in.
In the Algerian, Ranieri will be hoping to find the fresh spark to help the team get past a sluggish start to the season, which saw them pick up only seven points from their first five league outings.
Both their losses came on the road, against Hull and Liverpool.
Their most recent match also ended in a 4-2 defeat by Chelsea after extra time in a midweek League Cup fixture, during which they had Marcin Wasilewski sent off in the 89th minute.
But, against big-spenders Man United, whom they have beaten only once in their last 16 attempts, Ranieri has promised to adopt the same plucky attitude that saw them win their first top-flight title in the club's 132-year history last season.
"We are fearless," said Ranieri.
"Why are we scared to go there? More than lose, what can we do there? I enjoy (the atmosphere). Amazing, fantastic.
"When you play the big teams, you don't have an advantage, you have to think about yourself and be strong, and that moment show your football.
"You hope for the bad moment and try to score a goal.
"We try to win. This is our philosophy, then if Manchester are better than us, that is okay."
BY THE NUMBERS
Jose Mourinho has not won any of his last four league meetings against a team led by Claudio Ranieri, including defeats in the last two games (W0, D2, L2).
Jamie Vardy has scored in three of his four games against Manchester United for Leicester in all competitions.
Islam Slimani has scored 22 goals in 23 league appearances in 2016, after his double on his EPL debut last weekend.
Man United have covered 526.6km in the EPL this season; lower than any other side.