Who: Southampton vs Manchester United
When: Saturday, August 31st @ 07:30 am ET on NBC Sports
Line: Southampton +295 | Draw +225 | Manchester United +105
The sense of optimism is quickly fading from Manchester United after suffering back-to-back Premier League upsets. A home defeat to Crystal Palace brought forward the reality that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is far from reaching their best. However, the season’s just started. As long as United can spike-up their performance-levels again, the Palace defeat would soon be considered a freak accident.
The trip to Southampton, although, isn’t the easiest. Considering that the Saints almost caused an upset against Liverpool recently, come in the back of an impressive away win, it’ll be a compelling task for United to overcome.
Southampton have also been the third most unlucky team in the Premier League so far this season. Their 3 total goals is far below their xG of 5.31. Their 3 total points is much lower than their xPTS of 5.56. However, do you know who the second unluckiest team so far this Premier League season is? Manchester United. Their xPTS of 7.11 is a far cry from their actual total of 4.
So yes, something has to give here.
Here’s where their character’s tested and we’ll know whether or not OGS’ side are tough enough to survive storms.
Southampton Likely XI:
Gunn, Djenepo, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Danso, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Ings, Adams.
Coach Raphael Hasenhuttl has a fully fit squad, with reserve left-back Sam McQueen being the only player out. Last week’s star Moussa Djenepo should be rewarded with a start, while the Danny Ings-Che Adams combo should start to cause chaos in the United area.
Manchester United Likely XI:
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young, McTominay, Pogba, Greenwood, Mata, James, Rashford.
If the defeat wasn’t bad enough, Manchester United’s injury curse struck again last weekend. Luke Shaw is expected to be out for a month after hobbling off against Palace, which means captain Ashley Young should play. Anthony Martial’s also a doubt after picking up an injury, while Mason Greenwood should, for me, also replace the disappointing Jesse Lingard.
Southampton vs Manchester United Match Preview
The pressure is mounting on Manchester United and, I think, will cause a complete meltdown unless dealt with early into the new season. To make things worse, St. Mary’s hasn’t exactly been their fondest places to go to in recent years, as they’ve only won once in their last three visits. Southampton are fearless with their attacking approach, as unless United can take their chances, they’ll definitely have ways to hurt them on Saturday.
While OGS’ side has shown reasons for improvement since the end-of-season debacle in May, there are still some cobwebs in their system. Certain players are still under-performing. There’s still a real lack of depth in multiple areas of their squad. One real positive is how good their new signings are performing.
Despite Harry Maguire as well as Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s defensive vulnerabilities being timely displayed against Palace, they’re still very solid. Daniel James, however, lightened up Old Trafford with an electric display. He seems an absolute thunderous option operating from the left-wing, from where he can cut in and create more goal-scoring opportunities.
The Welsh winger’s their best option down the left. Marcus Rashford should operate more centrally to take swipes at goal. United, for me, must improve moving the ball quicker in the attack. They must create more proper goal-scoring chances. And United must actually take shots on target rather than trying a spectacular to prevail against Southampton.
The hosts, however, won’t make things easy. They’ve created a formidable attacking line inspired by the sizzling Nathan Redmond. Southampton are quick, flexible enough to warp through United’s defence and cause real problems for David De Gea. They also boast compact backline capable of sniffing out predictable attacks, so I think United will need something special to break them open and win the contest.
This is going to be a pretty tight, open-ended affair, as I think will end up as a draw (currently priced +225), mounting the frustrations upon OGS and co.