Manchester United travel to St Mary’s in the Premier League on Saturday to face Southampton. The South Coast club have won one, drawn one and lost one in the league season season and still above United at this time. Erik ten Hag’s United will be seeking their second victory of the season.
The losses against Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford brought United to a new low this season resulting in a brilliant performance against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Monday, taking all three points an leaving Liverpool winless in their opening three matches.
United unveiled Casemiro ahead of the match on Monday and his debut will be long-awaited, even though his signing came about pretty quickly. United needed a defensive midfielder like him and the improvement should be shown almost immediately.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia;
Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
David De Gea showed an improvement against Liverpool and despite having a clean sheet for a large period of the match, he was beaten as Liverpool tried a late comeback. The Spanish goalkeeper will have his work cut out for him this season and better results are expected.
Dean Henderson’s loan spell with Nottingham Forest has given De Gea not real competition with Tom Heaton not expected to test the number one which is why Ten Hag is seeking another goalkeeper this summer with Martin Dubravka linked to the club.
United will need to grind out the results, pushing their opposition with the style of play that they showed against Liverpool, making tweaks here and there for different opposition as the same thing will not work 100% of the time. United need to bounce back big this season.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia
United’s defence performed well against Liverpool and for this clash with Southampton, Ten Hag should keep the back four the same as they showed their strengths together. United’s defence has had lots of money spent on it but that does not guarantee strength.
Diogo Dalot played a good game against Liverpool and should keep his place. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be a rotation option but that is all for now. Tyrell Malacia played his best match for United, which will resign Luke Shaw to the bench, at least for now.
Raphael Varane was recalled at the expense of Harry Maguire and that was a good decision. He did what he needed to do alongside Lisandro Martinez, who has yet to lose an aerial dual in the Premier League this season. This could be a good central defensive partnership.
Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen
The midfield has been given attention this summer with the signings of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen following the departures of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. Casemiro is expected to make his debut in this match, which should, on paper, help the defence massively.
Eriksen has been playing well this season and can do a lot with the ball on the pitch. United are still a work in progress at this time and will eventually find their feet, which could have been the start against Liverpool. Eriksen is a class midfielder and knows what is expected.
Later in the match, with five substitutions available, Fred could come on to partner with his compatriot, something which both he and Casemiro will be looking forward to, both doing well when playing together for Brazil. This midfield could be exciting.
Attacking Midfield: Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford
All three of these players did well against Liverpool, even though Bruno Fernandes has a slight mare in defence and nearly scored an own goal. Jadon Sancho put in a great performance to score the opening goal against Liverpool, which should be his barometer for performances this season.
Fernandes did everything that he could to bring back the player that could score and assist goals galore, but it just was not meant to be. He was a bright spark in the match, which is why he should start this match too. Without Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s a lot better on the pitch.
Marcus Rashford has seen lots of criticism this summer and despite a quiet pre-season in terms of goals and assists, his work rate has been brilliant. It worked out for him against Liverpool with Anthony Martial playing him through to score a great goal. He needs to start in this form.
The French striker returned from injury which had kept him out of the opening two Premier League matches this season leaving United with few options in attack. He came off the bench at the start of the second half setting up Rashford’s goal just eight minutes into the half.
He will be rusty which is why he needs to be starting, if he has the fitness levels. United have some tough matches in the next few weeks and winning is all that matters now after the clubs start to the season. Martial seems happy and hungry, which is good for him and United.
Obviously United need some strengthening in the attacking line this summer, especially if Ronaldo does leave the club, which seems likely. Martial and Rashford can play in this position with Rashford starting as the striker against Liverpool, although that did change.
Substitutes: Heaton; Maguire, Shaw; Fred, van de Beek, McTominay; Ronaldo, Elanga, Garnacho
Ten Hag has five substitutions available to him in the Premier League and that will allow more tactical changes to be made. Each club only has three windows to make changes during the match plus one at half time, which could combat fatigue this season.
Tom Heaton will remain on the bench for now. In defence, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw cold be there should defensive changes need to be made, which is a possibility. The midfield could see Fred, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay available at some stage, if needed.
The attack could consist of Cristiano Ronaldo, with this possibly the final match he could play at United, Anthony Elanga, despite being substituted against Liverpool, which seemed to be a tactical decision and Alejandro Garnacho, who will be eager to get involved this season.
Written by John Walker