Predictions: Manchester United v Southampton – Premier League 2016/17

Manchester United had the best opening weekend of every team in the Premier League, after the Community Shield win, which bodes well for fans. Everyone is excited to find out what happens next- United has two wins on the bounce and will be looking to continue that against Claude Puel’s new-look Southampton side in the first Premier League ‘Friday night lights’ fixture. Both the first two wins came without marquee signing Paul Pogba too, which only bodes well for the first match in which the Frenchman is available for selection. How will United fare? Steven Custons, Elton Wolf, Adem Berkay, Matt Henderson and Aaron Moniz have predicted how proceedings may occur on Friday night.

Steven Custons: Premier League football returns to Old Trafford this Friday as Manchester United entertain Southampton. Jose Mourinho will be hoping to build on Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth in which Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all opened their accounts for the campaign. United’s opponents on Friday started their Premier League season off with a 1-1 draw against 10-man Watford last weekend. The Reds have lost on each of the last two occasions that Southampton have visited Old Trafford, by the same 1-0 scoreline. Hopefully United can buck the trend in the first Friday night game of the season. Here’s my prediction as to who should start against Claude Puel’s side.

Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Pogba, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic

There’s plenty of questions to be asked prior to Mourinho’s first league game at Old Trafford. Will Chris Smalling come into the starting eleven following suspension? Will Paul Pogba Start? Will Jesse Lingard return from injury and when will Henrikh Mkhitaryan start? I think Mourinho will continue the partnership of Eric Bailly and Daley Blind at the back, despite Smalling being available, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? I’m 100% certain that Pogba will start against Southampton, It’s just a case of who partners him in midfield as both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini had tidy games against Bournemouth. I also believe we’ll see former Borussia Dortmund man Mkhitaryan given his first Premier League start, ahead of Mata and Lingard. Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Southampton

Elton Wolf: Premier League football is officially back at Old Trafford. After a successful trip down south, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side look to keep their momentum going as they look to win the first home game of the season. Last week’s win over AFC Bournemouth was very successful, however not perfect, and this is an opportunity for the side to show the league the threat that they can cause this year. After being suspended for last week’s game, record signing Paul Pogba will look to make his second debut for Manchester United in the Premier League, and do it in fine fashion, thus why I have included him in my predicted lineup for the Southampton clash.

Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Pogba, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic

This might just be the first time that fans will see all 4 of Mourinho’s summer signings together. Both Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are looking in great shape and have had fine performances in their short time at the club. The main reason why I believe that both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pogba will start is because they have the ability to exploit any mistakes made by Southampton. In Southampton’s 1-1 draw against Watford, it was clear that they aim to attack from the middle of the pitch, which is why I believe Pogba must substitute Fellaini, as Pogba’s control of the ball and ability to create chances will give United a huge advantage over Southampton. In addition, whilst I believe that Juan Mata had a good game against Bournemouth, Mkhitaryan’s time has come.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Southampton

Adem Berkay: Friday night is a big night for Manchester United. The first home game of the new season, Mourinho’s first competitive match at Old Trafford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first league game in front of his new public. It all pales into insignificance, though, Friday night is #Pogback night. Paul Pogba returns to United as the most expensive player in world football and United fans simply cannot wait. He should slot straight into a winning side, replacing Marouane Fellaini to take charge of the midfield. My team would see Pogba partnered with Herrera in midfield and Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming in to the side for his first start at the expense of Rooney. Whether Mourinho drops his captain remains to be seen.

Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Pogba, Herrera; Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Martial; Ibrahimovic.

Not only are Manchester United in confident mood and on a small winning run already this season, the excitement and anticipation surrounding Pogba’s return will make it a difficult night for Southampton. United have too much firepower at the top end of the pitch to be ignored and have found a defensive gem in Eric Bailly. Add to that a dynamic and powerful midfielder who just about gives everything they are missing; a United victory seems like a foregone conclusion. The real hope amongst Manchester United fans is not just for a home win this weekend, but for a result that marks the start of a successful and exciting new era. Bring it on!

Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Southampton

Matt Henderson: A successful beginning to the campaign has fans suitably licking their lips, hungry for more. Bournemouth wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but after three seasons of abject disappointment, three goals and an away win was just what the doctor ordered. It’s absolutely getting the optimistic juices flowing within me and the very notion the game against Southampton will see Paul Pogba make his debut (technically I suppose he’s already made it, but second time round) has got me on edge. The days where I can’t wait to watch United are back. I think it will be a night to remember also, with the feel good very much the predominant emotion around Old Trafford and all the momentous firsts on show, the atmosphere should be electric and finally there are the players that can live up to that. Starting XI wise, I feel United will shape up something like this:

De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Pogba, Herrera; Mata, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic

It’s the same team I predicted for the Bournemouth match, and again where I would far rather see Henrikh Mkhitaryan start ahead of Wayne Rooney I am a realist and know it will be the Captain to start. Otherwise, that is the best team available to Mourinho, no Marouane Fellaini would be a massive improvement and make certainly myself a lot happier. As far as goal scoring goes, need I say who the greatest threats are? Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Pogba, Martial and (if they play at all) Mkhitaryan and Rashford all offer a real goal threat. Where Southampton are perhaps a sterner test than Bournemouth turned out to be, I expect the Red Devils to triumph handsomely based solely on the occasion.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Southampton

Aaron Moniz: This is the best time to be a Manchester United fan since Sir Alex Ferguson clinched the Premier League- everyone looks ready to blow the Premier League to shreds, including the fringe players. That’s why it’s so hard to predict who’ll start. For starters, the back four better not change. Playing Wayne Rooney against Southampton’s 4-3-1-2 could be even more suicidal than playing Wayne Rooney already is, but it’ll happen anyways. We can be excited about Paul Pogba’s debut, though, and Marouane Fellaini will join him after Jose Mourinho praised him so openly. Henrikh Mkhitaryan should also debut, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Juan Mata play- he was good against Bournemouth and Southampton doesn’t possess significant wing threat to expose him defensively.

Starting XI: de Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Fellaini, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic

Part of me wishes Morgan Schneiderlin was fit to play because chances are Dusan Tadic could tear Fellaini apart, but he deserves the chance and should be okay. United will be sorely outnumbered in midfield with the anonymous Rooney and forced to play a two v four- that being said, I think the defence will hold together and United’s attack will be too much on the wings for Southampton. Jose Mourinho sides seldom concede at home and I expect the same in this match. Expect Ibrahimovic and Pogba to earn United a solid win.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Southampton

Written by Aaron Moniz


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