Manchester United visit St Mary’s on Saturday 1st December for a 17:30GMT kick off against 18th places Southampton.
Manchester United seem to have lost their football identity over the past couple of fixtures with many blaming manager Jose Mourinho for their recent woes. A negative result against Palace at home last week followed by a last minute win against Young Boys in the Champions League leaves many to wonder why United aren’t sweeping away bottom teams. It’s become a regularity for English Football’s most successful side to give away points against teams that their rivals usually thrash 4-0. You get the feeling that this game against Southampton will be very important for United going into the busy festive period. Jose will be looking to finish off the Saints who haven’t won a single home game since April.
Southampton have had a torrid first half of the season. Mark Hughes’ side sit in 18th place, at least 8 places down to where they should be. A recent 6-1 drubbing by City and last week’s 3-2 loss at Fulham hasn’t helped Southampton at all. If anything, this fixture against United is a way for them to redeem themselves and seeing United’s struggles, the Saints will see this as a welcome opportunity to cause a major upset. Hughes has already claimed that his side shouldn’t be worried about United’s visit, indicating Southampton will be looking for the win come Saturday evening.
Big news coming out of the United camp is that Alexis Sanchez is out due to a hamstring injury.
Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw are both expected to start after missing out due to an injury and suspension respectively. Romelu Lukaku’s poor form might see him on the bench with Jose expected to give Rashford another go. However, nothing can be predicted when it comes to Mourinho’s United.
Predicted lineup: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Pogba, Matic, Fred; Martial, Lukaku, Rashford.
The Saints will be without Danny Ings due to injury and Ryan Bertrand is also expected to miss out courtesy of a back injury. This means Gabbiadini is Hughes’ most likely bet upfront and Targett is set to start at left back. Hughes will be eager to set up his midfield to counter the Paul Pogba threat with Lemina and Hojbjerg.
Predicted lineup: McCarthy; Soares, Yoshida, Hoedt, Targett; Lemina, Hoejbjerg; Elyonoussi, Armstrong, Redmond; Gabbiadini.
With both managers preferring a pragmatic approach, the game looks set to be contested and won in the midfield. However, United’s recent woes and Southampton’s poor form may prompt both managers to play fast attacking football seeing as the defence of both teams are equally unreliable. Expect a high octane PL clash as the result will set the foundation for the most important month of the PL calendar. Enjoy the action!
Match Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Manchester United