Having won their last three games, there’s finally a ring of positivity around Manchester United. But this side is also the most unpredictable side around these days. After having won one game in emphatic fashion, they can easily lose the other one in the most disappointing manner.
Fortunately, the Red Devils are travelling away from home in their next game against a dangerous Southampton side. The Saints have started the season really well & proven themselves being capable of slaying giants. United’s 10-match away winning streak is in severe threat and unless they can produce a similar clinical performance as they’ve done in recent weeks, Southampton won’t think twice before ending that streak.
Southampton Likely XI
McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Djenepo, Walcott, Adams
The Saints will miss some big players against United, with both Danny Ings & Nathan Redmond on the injury list. Mohammed Salisu & William Smallbone are the other absentees for the game.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, McTominay, Fred, Bruno, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly & Jesse Lingard are still ruled out. Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Victor Lindelof suffered slight injuries against Istanbul Basaksehir, but they should recover in time for Sunday’s game. Paul Pogba should also recover from his knock, but is unlikely to start.
Southampton vs Manchester United preview
Man United performed like they’re expected to in the romping of Basaksehir, playing an exciting, attacking style & taking risks that ultimately paid off. While they’ll probably be a bit more cautious against Southampton, who have some really quality players, they should maintain a similar hunger to take the fight to the opponent.
But the Saints are no slouches either. Ralph Hasenhuttl has instilled a proper attacking philosophy into the club & is making them play some wonderful soccer. If consistent enough, Southampton could even compete for a Europa League spot this season. But despite their attacking brilliance, they tend to switch off timely defensively.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side must ensure that the pounce upon their mistakes. The Saints opt to play a risky high-line defensive style which could be broken open if United are precise enough. Just as Tottenham did in their big win at the St. Mary’s earlier this season, the Red Devils should look to lodge forward long balls and break their offside trap.
For that, however, their forwards need to be at their clinical best. Anthony Martial is yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season. It’s high time he proves his quality & get in behind defenders with his clever off-the-ball movement & finish off his chances ruthlessly. Marcus Rashford loves making clever forward runs past high-line defences, so he’ll be salivating at the prospect of troubling Southampton’s defenders.
Rashford needs to be delivered forward passes & must improve his decision making in the final third to help his side get the upper hand. Bruno Fernandes should also thrive in the action-packed, open game on Sunday, but he’ll look to create more because of Southampton’s defensive stance.
The Portuguese midfielder has been in an insane scoring spree in recent weeks and will look to continue that with his timely devastating shots on goal, all while trying to break open the backline with clever splitting passes. Mason Greenwood should be back into the starting XI after his impressive cameo on Tuesday & considering how good he looked on the counter-attack, the teenage sensation will aim for his first PL goal of the season.
While United should be fearless going forward, they need to maintain a strong bond defensively. Despite Donny van de Beek’s excellent performance against Basaksehir, Fred & Scott McTominay will probably start, to provide more defensive stability to the backline & ensure that Southampton’s midfielders can’t run the show. Fred will be at his sparky best to make key interceptions & start counter-attacks, while McTominay looks to bully the opponents.
The Red Devils have improved a lot defensively since their stuttering start to the season, but this Southampton side can carve open any backline. Che Adams is like a menacing fox in the box, while Theo Walcott still possesses the unpredictable pace to trouble United’s defenders. With James Ward-Prowse’s creativity & set-piece brilliance as well as the tricky Moussa Djenepo causing trouble on the left-wing, Southampton will be pumped to cause a nightmare.
Harry Maguire needs to marshal his troops well on Sunday. More importantly, he must be stronger defensively against the blistering pace of Southampton’s attackers & make better challenges. Lindelof will hope to provide more cover to Maguire & make clutch clearances with his brilliant game-reading, while Wan-Bissaka must turn into a tackling machine to keep Djenepo & Ryan Bertrand quiet in his side.
United will have to be brave & play as a solid unit to succeed at the St. Mary’s stadium. Southampton can run away with the result if allowed to, so the Red Devils can’t afford any mistakes & must be ruthless with their blistering swift-breaks to get another big win on the road.
With United’s impressive away form and Southampton preferring to play a high-octane, attacking style at home – this should be a thrilling end-to-end contest. It could go either way, but I think United have enough momentum & confidence on their side to pick up a 2-1 win.