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Opposition Scouting: Southampton licking their lips at Manchester United visit having positivity behind them after back to back wins

Southampton will welcome Manchester United to St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon in the first Premier League fixture of the weekend, an early kickoff for both teams. Southampton did not start their season well with two defeats in their opening matches, losing 3-0 away to Burnley and 2-1 at home to Liverpool. However, negativity turned to positivity recently for the Saints, which will boost them for this match.

Saints manager Ralph Hasenhüttl will be seeking to continue the positivity after victories over Brighton and Hove Albion (2-0) and Fulham (1-0). Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will also be seeking to return to winning ways after last seasons poor performances reared their ugly head once again with some United supporters talking about Solskjaer’s record, suggesting that he should be sacked. It will be a long, tough season on Twitter!

Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttl

The 52-year-old Austrian has a long career in the game as a player, playing in Austria, Belgium, and Germany before retiring and becoming a manager. His final club was Bayern Munich II, ending his career at the end of the 2002/03 season. Hasenhüttl made eight appearances for his country also, scoring three goals. In 2007, he took his first management role at SpVgg Unterhaching in Germany, spending three years at the club before moving to VfR Aalen in 2011, staying for two years.

From 2016 to 2018, Hasenhüttl managed Ingolstadt 04 before spending two years at RB Leipzig. In December 2018, the 52-year-old became the permanent Southampton manager where he succeeded Mark Hughes. Southampton were a relegation contender at the time he took over and on the 27 April 2019, after a 3-3 draw against Bournemouth at St Mary’s, Hasenhüttl managed to secure his clubs Premier League status. They ended the season in 16th place. This season, Southampton will need to do so much better.

Tactics: The South Coast club has played in the 4-2-2-2 formation recently, both time heeding victories for the club. Will Hasenhüttl stick with this formation against United, or change it to 3-4-3 to close down the midfield?

In competitive matches this season, Southampton have played in three different formations; 3-4-2-1, 3-4-3, and 4-2-2-2. In the last two matches, which were both wins for the Saints, they played in the latter 4-2-2-2 formation. That might be something Hasenhüttl sticks with as they get ready to face United at St Mary’s, where he will be looking for three wins in his last three matches. Will keeping the same formation show Southampton’s stagnation and predictability? We will soon find out.

If you think about team sticking with the same formation, like United seem to be doing, teams will know how to break them down as it looks like there is no plan B. Hasenhüttl has plans to combat this, hence the use of three different formations this season. It is possible that he will change the formation to take more of a stock of the midfield, relying on the skills and pace of Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond to take United on the counter-attack, something United find it touch to contain.

Form: Southampton lost their first competitive matches this season but have won their last two matches after a positive pre-season. Beating Manchester United will be something they will aim for.

Southampton: WWLLWW (* denotes friendly)

Fulham 1-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 W, Liverpool 2-1 L, Burnley 3-0 L, FC Köln 2-0 W*, Feyenoord 3-1 W*

Predicted Starting XI: Southampton to change formation to 3-4-3 in order to stagnate United’s midfield and control the game to win their third match in a row?

Match Prediction: Southampton will be largely positive after winning their last two matches, scoring three goals, conceding none. However, United will be coming off the back of a draw and a defeat, seeking to gain some respect once again. It could be tough.

Southampton 1-2 Manchester United

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