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Preview: Mourinho looking to beat Southampton maintaining St Mary’s record?

Southampton -v- Manchester United

St Mary’s, Southampton

Premier League 2016/17

Wednesday 17th May 2017; KO 19:45 BST

Live on Sky Sports 1 HD

Manchester United will be back on the road again this week as they head to Southampton to play their final away match of the Premier League season, which is also the penultimate match of the season, in the league at least. United are currently sixth in the Premier League, not the first they have been there this season, spending more than 100 days in the position earlier in the season, with Arsenal moving down when United occupied the fifth place in their quest for a top-four finish – which came to an end last weekend when United were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal. On Sunday, United played in the last ever match at White Hart Lane as we know it, losing 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur which saw United go 2-0 down before Wayne Rooney scored what turned into a consolation goal. United were a shadow of themselves – just not looking like a team who wanted to win, let alone cause a sour celebration in North London with Spurs players from yesteryear celebrating the 118-year lifespan of the stadium.

On Wednesday evening, United will be pitted against a Southampton side who put them to the test in the EFL Cup final just over two months ago. This time, in the penultimate Premier League match of the season, the Saints will be targeting European football as there will be a chance that UEFA Europa League football could be given to teams in seventh, eighth and even ninth – only if Arsenal win the Emirates FA Cup and United win the UEFA Europa League. Teams in seventh and eighth could play European football if either United or Arsenal win a trophy before the end of the season, so for the Saints, West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth there will be a race to finish in the eighth place, with Bournemouth looking out of sorts with their goal difference, but for Southampton and West Brom, there could be a battle this week – both facing Manchester teams, which could be tough for them. Many United supporters will be expecting youth to be given a chance, but with the Premier League rules stating teams will need to play their strongest sides, especially when European places could be at stake, could deter Jose Mourinho from making that happen.

Of course, United and Mourinho may opt to play a few young players in the team, which has been the case against Arsenal and Spurs with Axel Tuanzebe starting both matches and Scott McTominay making his debut late on at the Emirates. Players such as Joel Pereira, Matthew Olosunde, Demetri Mitchell and Matty Willock – all of whom have been involved in first team training this season and with Pereira making his debut against Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup – it is only a matter of time before these players make the first team. Jose Mourinho must be impressed with them if he is giving them the time to train with the first team and giving them a number and including them in United’s matchday squads, which has been the case with most of the names mentioned. The future seems to be bright for Manchester United and their youth and hopefully, before the end of the season, we will see some of this youth take their chances in the first team. Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday might be the match to blood more than one name into the team as Palace are safe in the Premier League and have nothing to play for this season.

Match Officials: Mike Dean set to officiate on an important night in Southampton

Mike Dean will officiate the match at St Mary’s on Wednesday evening. This will be the 34th match of Dean’s season of which he has been in charge of 27 Premier League matches, two Championship matches, one League One match, two Emirates FA Cup matches and one EFL Cup match – this match will be his 28th Premier League match this season. This will be the fifth time Dean has taken charge of a match involving United and the fourth involving Southampton. During United matches, Dean has shown eight yellow cards to United players; during Southampton matches, he has shown two yellow cards and one red to Southampton players. Ian Hussin and Simon Long have been named as the assistant referees and Graham Scott will be the fourth official.

Form: United could have two trophies in the bag at the end of the season, so it has not been all bad!

Manchester United: Last season, United finished in fifth place, which is still a possibility this season, but a slim one. Finishing sixth is a new low for United – who finished seventh under the leadership of David Moyes, fourth and fifth under Louis van Gaal and seemingly sixth under Mourinho. However, Mourinho has won the FA Community Shield – which Moyes did too, adding the EFL Cup to that. Louis van Gaal won the Emirates FA Cup. Mourinho could add the UEFA Europa League trophy to his haul as a United manager, which would mean only Chelsea, in England at least, have had a better season than United. In the league, United have a lot to do to become the team many will be expecting next season – title challengers. There is currently a long way off the likes of Chelsea, which will need to be addressed in the summer with incomings and deadwood being expunged from the club.

Southampton: Southampton have declined since last season where they finished sixth – this season they ninth place with a chance of rising to eighth, which currently is separated by goal difference. There is still a chance to play in Europe next season for the South Coast club who could have a new manager in the form of Marco Silva if reports are true at this moment in time. This season, the Saints made a cup final – beaten by Manchester United, but that will be a point which will show how well they have done outside of the league, apart from the Europa League with them being knockout out in the qualification places. Southampton are a good side, Liverpool holds a lot of interest in their players, so they are doing something right. Not that these players are going to achieve much with the Merseyside club being 27 years away from their last league title, winning them before Christmas and declining massively from the chase for the title when it counts.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Southampton this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, 7 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 4 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Southampton: 9 – Charlie Austin, 8 – Nathan Redmond, 6 – Manolo Gabbiadini, Jay Rodriguez, 5 – Shane Long, 4 – Virgil van Dijk, James Ward-Prowse, 3 – Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic, 2 – Sofiane Boufal, Jordy Clasie, Maya Yoshida 1 – Jake Hesketh, Oriol Romeu

Team News: Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. On the bright side, Marouane Fellaini is back for United!

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will be without Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah for the remainder of the season due to injury. Marouane Fellaini is eligible to face Southampton in the Premier League after serving his three-match suspension for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero in the Manchester derby only a few weeks ago. Mourinho will be looking ahead to the UEFA Europa League a week from this match, so he may opt to keep the players that he will be looking to start, out of action, which may be a bit too early. Paul Pogba missed the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur due to the death of his father, and he could be back in action midweek, which would strengthen United significantly in the midfield. Southampton manager Claude Puel looks set to be without Alex McCarthy and Virgil van Dijk, the latter being a big blow for his defence. With the pre-match press conferences not yet taking place, confirmation on the players who will miss the match has not been made, but in the case of United’s players, Mourinho has already ruled them out for the remainder of the season.

Previous Meetings: A rich history between the two sides with United winning 63 times in 120 matches

Manchester United and Southampton have a history going back to 1897 with the first match between the two sides being played on the 13th February that year, a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup. Since then, a total of 120 matches have been played between the two sides. United have won 63 times, drawn 29 times, losing to Southampton 28 times. The last defeat to Southampton was only last season at Old Trafford, a 1-0 defeat in the Premier League. This season, United have faced Southampton twice, winning 2-0 in the Premier League at Old Trafford, with a brace from the now injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, also winning 3-2 in the EFL Cup final at Wembley in February, again with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring important goals – one either side of Jesse Lingard’s 38th minute strike. United recently went eleven matches unbeaten against Southampton in all domestic competitions from the 3-2 victory on the 31st January 2004 right the way through to the 2-1 victory on the 8th December 2014. Since then, five matches have been played with United winning three and Southampton winning the other two. Eleven matches have been played between the two sides at St Mary’s with United winning all but two; one a draw and the other a defeat. United will be looking to continue their winning form at St Mary’s.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Southampton?

Predicted Score:

Southampton 1-2 Manchester United

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