Manchester United will travel to the south coast this weekend, as they gear up to face off against relegation battlers Southampton.
Manchester United will be aiming to get back to winning ways in the Premier League, when they lock horns against a struggling Southampton side at the St. Mary’s on Saturday evening.
Manchester United are without a victory in their previous two league matches, having been beaten 3-1 by Manchester City in the derby, before they were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace this past weekend. They did, however, manage to beat BSC Young Boys 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League during the week.
Currently occupying the seventh spot in the league standings, fourteen points adrift of the league leaders City and seven below Chelsea in the fourth spot, Jose Mourinho’s men will be keen on picking up all three points against the Saints this weekend and climb up the ladder.
Southampton, on the other hand, find themselves mired in the battle for survival towards the bottom of the table. The Saints are currently stationed in the 18th place in the standings, having picked up just eight points from their 13 games this term (W1, D5, L7).
Southampton have failed to win in their last nine Premier League outings and were dumped out of the Carabao Cup earlier this week, following a penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Leicester City. Manager Mark Hughes is under serious pressure to turn things around and a win against the Red Devils would certainly aid his cause.
Team News & Tactics
On-loan Liverpool forward Danny Ings missed the 3-2 defeat to Fulham last weekend with a hamstring injury and was absent in the midweek game against Leicester as well. He is set to be unavailable for the clash against Manchester United.
Shane Long and Ryan Bertrand are other notable absentees for the home team. Matt Targett, who picked up a head injury during the week, might not be involved either.
Having fielded a three-man defence in the midweek game against the Foxes, Hughes is likely to stick with the same setup for the weekend encounter, but there will be a number of personnel changes.
Alex McCarthy should replace Angus Gunn in goal for the hosts. He will be shielded by the back three comprising of Maya Yoshida, Jannik Vestergaard and Wesley Hoedt, who did not take part in the cup game. Cedric Soares will feature as the right-sided wing-back, while Nathan Redmond could be asked to do a job as the left-sided wing-back with both Bertrand and Targett doubtful.
Mario Lemina and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have established themselves as the preferred midfield partnership under Hughes and that is unlikely to change for the Saturday’s game. Summer signing Stuart Armstrong will take up the No.10 slot and look to dictate play in the final third.
Charlie Austin will come back into the starting XI in attack and is likely to be partnered up with Italian attacker Manolo Gabbiadini, who has started the last two league games for the Saints.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): McCarthy; Yoshida, Vestergaard, Hoedt; Cedric, Hojbjerg, Lemina, Redmond; Armstrong; Gabbiadini, Austin;
The Red Devils will be without the services of Alexis Sanchez, who is expected to be sidelined for six weeks with a hamstring problem. Centre-back Victor Lindelof is also set to miss out with a groin problem, while Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo are doubtful to feature as well.
Mourinho is likely to make a number of alterations to the team that started against Young Boys in the European fixture. No changes are expected in goal though, with David De Gea being the undisputed No.1 for the Red Devils. Ashley Young should return at right-back in place of Antonio Valencia, while Luke Shaw will continue on the left-side of the defence.
Chris Smalling has established himself as a mainstay at the back and should once again feature from the get-go on Saturday. Phil Jones, who impressed in the midweek game, should get the nod alongside his fellow countryman.
Paul Pogba, who was benched for the midweek encounter, should return to the fold for Saturday’s trip to the St. Mary’s, with Fred making way for the club record signing. Marouane Fellaini, the hero of the last game, is likely to hold on to his spot though, along with Nemanja Matic, despite his underwhelming form.
Anthony Martial has looked a bit off colour in the last couple of games, but should be retained on the left flank for United, while Juan Mata is likely to get the nod on the right side ahead of Jesse Lingard. Romelu Lukaku should spearhead the attack in place of the wasteful Marcus Rashford.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Jones, Shaw; Fellaini, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Martial;
- Manchester United have come from behind to beat Southampton eight times in the Premier League – a joint-high in the competition.
- Southampton have gone five league and cup matches without a win against Manchester United, losing three of them.
- Manchester United have won four and lost one of their last six matches in all competitions.
- The Saints are one of only two Premier League clubs yet to win at home this term, the other being Crystal Palace.
- The Red Devils have a negative goal difference after 13 games of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1977-78.
1. Manchester United to win @ 1.95
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.90
1. Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 3.10
Player to Watch
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
It has been a very difficult campaign for the 25-year-old Belgian striker, who was Manchester United’s top scorer last season. Lukaku, till date, has managed just four goals from 17 games. He has now gone 12 matches without a goal across all competitions, with his last goal coming in the 2-1 win over Watford back in September.
The game against Southampton could prove to be the turning point for the striker though, given that he has scored four Premier League career goals at St Mary’s and had scored the winner in the corresponding fixture last season.
Southampton 0-1 Manchester United
Manchester United haven’t been firing on all cylinders this term, but the fact that they have lost just once in their last six games shows that Mourinho’s men have the mental character to carve out results while performing poorly. Southampton, on the other hand, have gone nine league matches without a win – 4 draws and 5 losses, and are yet to win a single game at home this season.
The last three contests between the two teams have seen just one goal scored and Saturday’s encounter at St. Mary’s is likely to follow a similar pattern, with United likely to clinch another victory with a late goal like they did in the midweek game.