Key Players and Battles: Harry Maguire, Angel Gomes, and Mason Greenwood to be involved in key battles at Southampton

Manchester United will be seeking a return to winning ways as they head to St Mary’s to face Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. Last weekend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had their first defeat of the season, which gave a negative reaction from the clubs fanbase, turning on the manager and his record at the club. This fanbase is becoming reactionary in toxic fashion.

This will be the final match before the first international break of the season and Solskjaer needs to get his team to leave the South Coast with all three points. However, Ralph Hasenhüttl has turned negativity into positivity at the club by winning the last two matches, beating Fulham 1-0 in the Carabao Cup and Brighton and Hove Albion in the league. It could be a tough match for United. Anything less than a win is not good enough.

United has played Southampton 125 times with United winning 65 matches, drawing 32 and losing 28 times. Southampton last defeated United on the 23 January 2016 in the Premier League, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford. In the last seven meetings, United are undefeated, winning four times, drawing three times. A win is important for United.

Key Players: Both United and Southampton have some quality players in their squads but it all depends on how they perform during the match as to whether they will perform, for United anyway!

Manchester United: David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Marcus Rashford, Daniel James

Southampton: Angus Gunn, Cédric Soares, Maya Yoshida, Jannik Vestergaard, Shane Long, Danny Ings, Ché Adams, Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse

Key Battles: Harry Maguire, Angel Gomes, and Mason Greenwood to battle against Danny Ings, Oriol Romeu, and Ryan Bertrand

Harry Maguire v Danny Ings

The central defender, despite an error against Wolverhampton Wanderers, has helped the club strengthen the defence, which was needed this summer. Three matches into his United career, the 26-year-old has done a lot for the club already. He is a strong tackler, winning 100% of tackles this season. He has made six interceptions, 16 clearance, nine of which have been headed. He has recovered the ball 16 times, also winning 17 duels, losing four of them.

Danny Ings, who has scored twice for Southampton this season, could have problems against the England defender, who will be looking to do his bit at St Mary’s on Saturday. Maguire will only become better at United. He’s a full international now and playing European football will be an experience for him this season, as will playing in a youthful team and being the more experienced head. Ings may need to be at the top of his game to get the better of this Englishman.

Angel Gomes v Oriol Romeu

Angel Gomes will be 19 on Saturday. What better way to celebrate his birthday than to start a Premier League match for United against Southampton? United are crying out for creativity in the midfield this season and Gomes can bring that. Hie small frame will see him use his skill and pace to get the better of his opposition, which he has done many times at U18, U19 and U23 level during his career at the club.

Having made his debut under Jose Mourinho at the end of the 2016/17 season, Gomes has not really played many minutes since and Solskjaer will need to change that, taking risks, which is the way Sir Alex Ferguson did things. Oriol Romeu is a defensive-minded midfielder for Southampton. He may not be tasked to mark Gomes, if he plays a part in the game, however, he may need to if he starts to produce for his club. Given time, he will do just that.

Mason Greenwood v Ryan Bertrand

The 17-year-old forward has been great at all levels in the United youth system. Having not played football ay U23 level this season, it is clear that Mason Greenwood is considered to be good enough for a place in the first team. Sir Matt Busby once said ‘if they are good enough, they are old enough’, which was a sign of the trust in youth that the manager had. Solskjaer seems to have a similar approach, although Greenwood has only played 39 minutes of football this season, in three appearances, it is clear he is in the plans of the manager.

With Anthony Martial out of action and the fact that Alexis Sanchez is now a confirmed Inter Milan player for the 2019/20 season, it is a clear indication for Greenwood to be given the chance from the start of the match like he was against Cardiff City in the final Premier League match last season. It could have been a great match for him if his shots were through on goal. However, he will have learned from that experience and will use it to get the better of his next opponent. Ryan Bertrand, Southampton’s left-back, could have his work cut out with the quick-footed teenager who has the killer instinct of a natural striker.

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.