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Starting XI Prediction: Romelu Lukaku to build confidence against Southampton? Paul Pogba in an advanced role?

Manchester United face Premier League strugglers Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday evening. It is a game that United should be pulling out all of the stops to win. Sitting seventh in the league, ahead of Saturday’s 3pm kickoffs, Jose Mourinho’s side could slip further in the table before their evening kick off. On Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur will face Arsenal and Liverpool will face Everton. All four teams are above United and at least two will drop points (all could if there were two draws).

If United beat Southampton before these matches, they will leap above Everton and be within three points of Arsenal, who will travel to the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday, meaning United could in effect be level with them next week, if all goes to plan. This is one of the best opportunities United will get to raise their position in the league. This is the minimum that Mourinho’s side will need to do. Are they capable of doing this? Is this team working as a team? Time will tell…

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea had his contract extended this week, meaning he will remain a Manchester United player until the summer of 2020, which gives United time to find common ground for a new long-term contract. The rumours had been rife about a move to Paris Saint-Germain but the media in this country talk rubbish the majority of the time. De Gea has performed well during his last two matches. Perhaps this month could see him getting a rest here and there but I’d rather have him in the team right now.

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Defence: Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw

The defence has been problematic for United this season. In the last two matches though, United have kept two clean sheets. Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Diogo Dalot will make his Premier League debut this weekend, also suggesting that he is ready, which sounds great. Luke Shaw will keep his place at left-back, meaning United have proper fullbacks in the squad. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones played well during the week and both could start against Southampton. Eric Bailly needs to play, perhaps off the bench.

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Midfield: Fred, Andreas Pereira

The midfield has been slow and sluggish in recent weeks. Fred played well, at times, against the Young Boys, although his finishing was not as good as it needed to be. He has been a good player during his career and will need to be tested, consistently in order to get the best out of him. Writing him off right now is too soon, he’s played sparingly so far. Andreas Pereira needs to be involved in the team if only to shut up the Twitter managers. He could be beneficial and will need to work hard if selected.

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Attacking Midfield: Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard

United’s attack has been nothing short of a lame duck recently. There has been some creativity but the last touch or a series of last touches had let the club down. Marouane Fellaini is the only player to find the back of the net in the last two matches with United scoring just one goal in 180 minutes of football. Jesse Lingard impressed against the Young Boys and Anthony Martial was finding his feet. Adding Paul Pogba in an advanced position may benefit United against the Saints, which is what needs to happen.

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Striker: Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian striker may need to lead the line against Southampton this weekend. With Marcus Rashford missing many opportunities against the Young Boys on Tuesday and the fact that Alexis Sanchez is out of action for the rest of 2018, it leaves on Romelu Lukaku to lead the line, unless Anthony Martial is placed in this position, leaving his place on the left needing to be filled. Lukaku has not scored in 949 minutes and it could reach 1,000 in this match unless his confidence is boosted with a good performance.

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