Manchester United welcome Southampton to Old Trafford tonight in their penultimate Premier League match at the Theatre of Dreams this season. Of course, they will be playing at Old Trafford another time in the UEFA Europa League at the start of next month. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking his team to extend their unbeaten run to 18 matches, putting pressure on Chelsea and Leicester City, leapfrogging them into third.
Since the restart, United have drawn 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur, beaten Sheffield United, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Aston Villa by 3-0 scorelines, also beating Bournemouth 5-2 in the Premier League, not to mention a 2-1 victory over Norwich City in the Emirates FA Cup a fortnight ago. Southampton will be a team aiming to stand in United’s way with Ralph Hasenhüttl looking to finish the season on a high.
How United have faired against Southampton in the Premier League.
United and Southampton have played 41 times in the Premier League with United winning 26, drawing eight and losing seven times. United have scored 82 goals conceding 46. United have kept 11 clean sheets with the Saints keeping six. United have been awarded three penalties, scoring one, with the Saints awarded one and missing it. In total, United have 54 yellow cards the Saints have 65 with both teams having one red card.
Back in August when the two teams met the first time this season, it was a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s with Daniel James scoring the opening goal in the tenth minute of the match, assisted by Scott McTominay. The Saints equalised through Jannik Vestergaard in the 58th minute, assisted by Kevin Danso, who was sent off with a second yellow card in the 73rd minute. At Old Trafford last season, United won 3-2.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Southampton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Monday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper has started to find some form after the restart and is not looking too shabby especially having kept 11 clean sheets this season, just two behind second-placed trio Alisson, Emerson and teammate Dean Henderson with Nick Pope top if 14 clean sheets. De Gea might not win the Golden Glove this season but he can at least catch up with some of his peers before the end of the season, holding his head high as United’s season has not been as bad as some make out.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
As Victor Lindelof started against Aston Villa on Thursday, he is clearly not suffering any recurrence of the back injury which affected him against Bournemouth. Solskjaer is tipped to not make any changes to his starting XI for the fifth match running, meaning that the Iceman will partner captain Harry Maguire with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw in the fullback positions. United will be seeking to keep another clean sheet and all three points in this match.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba
This is the best two-man midfield that United can utilise at this moment in time. Nemanja Matic has been in top form recently and has complimented both Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, who has been playing in a more advanced position. Matic has recently earned a new contract at the club, which is what he deserves for his perseverance and never give up attitude. In the last match, Pogba scored his first goal of the season and hopefully the first of many more between now and when the season eventually finishes.
Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood
Blistering attack. This is what we are seeing now and with one or two additions this summer, it could be so much better, with a rotation option. Marcus Rashford has 20 goals, Mason Greenwood has 16 goals and January signing Bruno Fernandes scores his eighth goal of the season against Aston Villa, which has shown just what he has brought to the club. Many will mock the number of penalties that he has scored but jealousy gets you nowhere. This is the best supporting attack the club has right now.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has scored 20 goals this season, matching what Rashford has provided and is just four goals ahead of Greenwood, who is coming on strong. Anthony Martial failed to score against Villa and when he was replaced, he was upset that he did not hit the target and his passion, which was on display in live television, excited every United support out there as this is the Martial that everyone has wanted to see for a long time now. The Frenchman is now developing into that player we all wanted him to develop into.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James, Scott McTominay; Odion Ighalo
As Solskjaer looks set to keep the same starting XI, he will probably keep the same players on the bench too. I don’t think you will see Jesse Lingard involved in this match, or many others this season, not until United have reached their objective of a fourth placed finish in the Premier League, securing UEFA Champions League football. Sergio Romero will be the substitute goalkeeper with Eric Bailly and Brandon Williams available in defence. In midfield, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James and Scott McTominay could be called upon if needed with Odion Ighalo the only attacking player on the bench.