Manchester United will be looking to take advantage of slip-ups and go third on the Premier League table when they host Southampton on Monday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed Manchester United, with the second half of the season panning out to be a real fairytale story so far. After being riddled with injuries at the start of the season and falling behind by as many as 14 points to Leicester, Manchester United can now overtake the Foxes with a win on Monday, thanks to Leicester and Chelsea slipping up this gameweek.
For Southampton, the game does not signify much, with Ralph Hasenhuttl already securing safety. There is still however a slim hope of getting into the top half, with the Saints only 6 points behind Arsenal and Burnley with a game in hand.
Both Manchester United and Southampton are doing well on the form table, which sets this up as an exciting encounter; even more so because of the raised stakes for Manchester United. Southampton’s last visit to Old Trafford was during Ole’s merry run as caretaker manager and the Saints ultimately came out on the losing side, albeit in a fighting 3-2 defeat.
Let us take a close look at the two squads.
Tactics & Team News
No real injury concerns for Ole ahead of the Monday Night match, the spirits are high in the Manchester United dressing room. Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe though, continue to tend to their respective long-term injuries. Ole has retained a 4-2-3-1 setup and is likely to do the same against Southampton, with most of the players picking themselves on form.
Luke Shaw has been a man rejuvenated post-lockdown and will again start on the left side of the four man backline. Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka complete the defensive wall that has been ushering in clean sheets of late. Maguire and Lindelof though, will have to be wary of Danny Ings on Monday.
Nemanja Matic has been the perfect cushion absorbing the pressure for Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to play with freedom. They should all start, with Bruno playing in the hole. Mason Greenwood looks to have the Midas touch of late when it comes to shooting and his ambidextrous shooting prowess will come in handy against a Southampton low block.
Marcus Rashford will be gunning to score from open play while Anthony Martial will be keen to get his name on the scoresheet once again after coming up empty against Aston Villa.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
Sofiane Boufal, Yan Valery and Moussa Djenepo are all long-term absentees and will definitely miss the Manchester Untied match, while Jannik Vestergaard is a major doubt. Kyle Walker-Peters has done remarkably well on loan at Southampton and should start once again on the right in Valery’s absence. Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and Ryan Bertrand will round out the defence, with Alex McCarthy in goal.
Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse are key to Southampton’s game and should be certain to start against Manchester United. Stuart Armstrong has really held his own on the right and should feature from the go on Monday night while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who did come on as a substitute against Everton, should replace Oriol Romeu in the starting lineup now that he is fully fit.
Hasenhuttl prefers a standard 4-4-2 setup, with one true forward and the other in a sort of a support striker role. Danny Ings has had a masterful season and is guaranteed to start. But, Shane Long could come in for Che Adams, with Long likely to cause more of a ruckus in and around the Manchester United box.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond; Ings, Long
1. Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five Premier League home matches, conceding just two goals in the process.
2. Manchester United have let the floodgates open in attack, with 13 goals scored in their last five home Premier League games.
3. Manchester United are on a 17-game unbeaten streak; their longest under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
4. Southampton are undefeated in their last three away games in the Premier League.
5. Danny Ings has 4 goals and an assist in his last five Premier League games for Southampton.
Player to Watch
Luke Shaw appreciation post.
Played 543/570 minutes for @ManUtd in all competitions since the restart⏱️
6 matches in 20 days 🏃♂️
5 wins ✅
1 draw ⏸️
3 Clean Sheets 🚫
And uncountable overlapping runs.🔁 pic.twitter.com/ZUUFYUqBKQ
— The United General. (@theutdgeneral) July 10, 2020
The Englishman was once ridiculed for looking overweight and playing without much gumption. But, we have seen a new Luke Shaw since the restart; one that not only seems to be doing everything just right but also building an important partnership down the left with Marcus Rashford.
Manchester United might finally have the Luke Shaw they purchased from Southampton after all. But, on Monday night, he will go up against Stuart Armstrong and Kyle Walker-Peters. Armstrong will use Shaw to cut inside and draw attention for Walker-Peters to overlap and create opportunities. It will be a tough task for Shaw to read and handle these potential 2-on-1 situations properly.
Manchester United 2-0 Southampton
Danny Ings and Southampton look to be in form. But, Manchester United’s form eclipses every other team’s recent showings. Ole seems to have drilled in the importance of never taking the foot off the gas and the results have been there for all to see. Manchester United not only seem to be winning but the players finally seem to enjoy playing with each other on the pitch.
Ralph Hasenhuttl will make sure he has his players tactically sound and compact in order to eliminate space for Manchester United’s tricksters to wander in while also having Ings on duty to counter and convert the chances they have.
But, with a lead in the race for third place on the line, Manchester United are likely to seal this one without much of a kerfuffle. A 2-0 win for the home side is what we are going with on this one.