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Preview: Southampton are unpredictable showed by recent form, Manchester United will need to perform to win!

Manchester United -v- Southampton

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 2 March 2019; KO 15:00 GMT

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Manchester United will be back in Premier League action on Saturday afternoon as then welcome Southampton at the Theatre of Dreams. United got themselves back to winning ways on Wednesday evening, beating Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park, which came three days after the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford. United are in an injury crisis which has seen eight players on the sidelines after Marcus Rashford and Marcos Rojo were involved against Palace, although Rojo remained on the bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got United ticking just like they used to. Under the management of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, and injury crisis like this would have been debilitating and the results Solskjaer has managed to get probably would not have happened. United’s mood has been changed by Solskjaer’s arrival and even the players that were not pulling their weight under Mourinho are pulling theirs and more now. That is the Solskjaer effect.

United now have ten matches left to play in the Premier League this season with 30 points to gain. In his last eleven league matches, Solskjaer has won 29 of the 33 available points, which is great considering the form the club were in after Mourinho was sacked. United sit a point behind Arsenal, who are fourth, two points ahead of Chelsea, who are sixth and five points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently third in the league. United have it all to win to save their season.

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Form: United in much better form that Southampton but the South Coast side have shown unpredictability of late…

Manchester United: WDWLWW

Crystal Palace 3-1 W, Liverpool 0-0 D, Chelsea 2-0 W, Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 L, Fulham 3-0 W, Leicester City 1-0 W

United has lost once and draw once, winning four times in their last six matches. It has seen them slip from fourth to fifth in the league, sitting just one point behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who they are yet to play next weekend. Solskjaer’s United responded well against Crystal Palace despite an injury crisis, which has brought out the best of some fringe players. In the last six matches, United has scored nine goals, conceding three goals, keeping four clean sheets.

Southampton: WLLDDW

Fulham 2-0 W, Arsenal 2-0 L, Cardiff City 2-1 L, Burnley 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 1-1 D, Everton 2-1 W

Southampton has not been in the best of form this season which has seen them in the relegation zone more often than not. Two wins, two draws and two defeats in their last six matches see them as pretty unpredictable at this stage of the season. On Wednesday evening, beating Fulham 2-0 saw them rise from the relegation zone, stretching a lead over the bottom two teams, Fulham and Huddersfield Town. Seven goals scored, six goals conceded in the last six matches, just one clean sheet.

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Top Scorers: United have scored more goals than Southampton this season with Paul Pogba the clubs leading scorer, six more than Danny Ings

Manchester United: 14 – Paul Pogba, 11 – Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, 10 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, 3 – Ander Herrera, 2 – Marouane Fellaini, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Fred, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling

Southampton: 8 – Danny Ings, 6 – Nathan Redmond, 4 – Stuart Armstrong, James Ward-Prowse, 3 – Charlie Austin, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, 1 – Cédric Soares, Ryan Bertrand, Manolo Gabbiadini, Shane Long, Michael Obafemi, Oriol Romeu, Jack Stephens

Team News: United’s injury crisis is still there with eight players on the sidelines currently; Marcus Rashford and Marcos Rojo have returned to fitness

Solskjaer could be without up to eight players for the visit of Southampton in the Premier League this weekend. Both Nemanja Matic (muscle) and Antonio Valencia (calf) will be missing from the match. Three more players could be available but are considered doubts; Matteo Darmian (knock), Phil Jones (illness), and Anthony Martial (groin). Then, there are three more players on the sidelines with no return dates; Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, and Jesse Lingard (all hamstring), who could also be missing for a while.

Marcus Rashford, who suffered an ankle injury against Liverpool and played the entire match, was back on the bench against Palace and played the last 20-odd minutes of the game, so he will be fresh for the Southampton match. Marcos Rojo was back on the bench after a layoff so he will be able to boost the team selection, even though Solskjaer has Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, and Chris Smalling available. The most important thing is that no new injuries were caused away to Palace.

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James Garner made his debut at the death of the Palace game and the boss has suggested that he could also feature against Southampton, which will be a big boost for him and the future opportunities for him at the club. Tahith Chong was also on the bench for United, although not used, so he could also play a part against Southampton, although United’s U23s will play on Friday evening. Mason Greenwood travelled with United, although he was not named as a substitute, as did Angel Gomes.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has just three injuries to contend with ahead of the visit to the Theatre of Dreams. Danny Ings (hamstring) is a major doubt, which could be costly and he also has both Michael Obafemi (hamstring) and Mario Lemina (abdominal) who have no return dates, meaning that the Saints could be without all three players at Old Trafford. However, recently boosted with a win and a move out of the bottom three, that confidence could prevail with them seeking a win in Manchester.

Predicted Starting XI: United now have strength-in-depth within the squad which makes life under Solskjaer much better…

Under Solskjaer, United are much more exciting and he has instilled those on the fringes of the first team with confidence. Romelu Lukaku scored twice against Palace on Wednesday which will have given the Belgian a boost of confidence, which could help him find the form he has lost recently. Alexis Sanchez needs to do more to regain his confidence, he’s just a player with work rate and little else, which is worrying right now. United though, have enough players to get through their crisis earning points on the way.

Match Prediction: Solskjaer’s United could be too much for Southampton to handle…

United and Southampton have played 124 times in the history of both clubs. United has won 64 times, drawing 32 times and losing just 28 times. The last defeat to Southampton was back on the 23 January 2016, a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford which saw Charlie Austin score the winning goal three minutes from time. United are undefeated in the last six matches against the Saints, winning three and drawing three, scoring eight goals, conceding four goals and keeping four clean sheets.

Manchester United 3-1 Southampton

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