Manchester United welcome Southampton to Old Trafford on the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. Ralf Rangnick’s need to find some match winning form to get the better of Ralph Hasenhüttl’s in form side after their 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
United are winless in their last two matches, drawing 1-1 with Burnley, which should have been nothing more than a United victory and losing to Middlesbrough 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Southampton will be seeking to get one over United, especially after the 9-0 hammering they took in this fixture last season, which saw a completely different United team hold them to account. This season though, United are a different team, mostly consisting of the same players.
It could well be that Rangnick changes the pack for this match with Harry Maguire not in the kind of form to keep him in the team with some youth players also needing match time in the first team. United’s attack need to start taking their chances, which will help change things considerably.
Previous meetings with Southampton and their connections with Manchester United.
United and Southampton have met 45 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 28 times, drawing ten with the Saints winning seven. United have scored 97 goals, winning four penalties, scoring two. The Saints have scored 51 goals, winning one penalty, not scoring it.
United have kept 12 clean sheets in this fixture with the Saints keeping six. There is a disciplinary history between these teams with United players shown 60 yellow cards and one red card and Southampton players being shown 74 yellow cards and three red card.
Over the years there has been many players who have turned out for both United and the Saints. Luke Shaw is the current player to fit that bill, signing for United in the summer of 2014 just before Louis van Gaal became the manager of the club.
Other players to have played for both clubs are Danny Wallace, Danny Higginbotham, Joe Jordan, Mark Hughes, Morgan Schneiderlin and Andrei Kanchelskis. Whilst there are not many big names, many of these have achieved something in the sport.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Southampton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea needs to keep his place in goal against Southampton. But that being said, United’s defence needs to compliment him and that is not something that could be said at this moment in time. Harry Maguire is not in the form to lead this team let alone captain them.
United need to take their chances and find the inspiration to drive them to victory as all they are doing are letting themselves, the club and more importantly, the supporters of the club down. I believe De Gea has the right mentality to help this team prosper – not that there is much to gain.
United will play their game in hand on Tuesday next week as they welcome Brighton and Hove Albion. Beating Southampton and then winning that match is important for United to break into the top four. Then they will need to stay there. I’m not all that confident at this time.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw
Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw played well against Burnley and despite the fact Dalot needs to help attack a bit more, Shaw did so well, despite United not always able to capitalise from their attacks, which need to change from this match and beyond.
Harry Maguire put in a poor performance against Burley and just did not seem composed or capable. He should not be leading this team out of anything. The bench beckons for him. Raphael Varane is the best defender at the club and will need a capable partner in the centre of the defence.
Phil Jones has done well when called upon this season and for that reason he should be given a chance for form a partnership with Varane with Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Maguire used in rotation. The defence needs to be the key in this United team.
Midfield Three: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes has been a positive player in the last two matches and has bust a gut to get something done, largely with it not working out for him and United. He is the main contributing factor in this United team with seven goals and 12 assists to his name this season.
Paul Pogba has been in good form since returning from injury against Middlesbrough, playing 90 minutes against Burnley. He has tired in the second half, which is understandable considering his injury lay off, and each match played will allow him to gain crucial match fitness.
Scott McTominay should be played ahead of anyone else in the defensive role on the midfield. He works hard and does the role well but the defence should help him as he helps them. Pogba and Fernandes are the inspiring factors in this team but McTominay can play his part too.
Forwards: Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Elanga
Jadon Sancho has risen in stature in the last two matches and was the player the could hold his head high against Burnley as he was behind most attacking plays on the left. He should play on the right against Southampton and perhaps he could find the rewards that he’s due soon.
Cristiano Ronaldo needs to help find a way to lift this United side. As one of the most experienced players at the club, he should be leading by example. I don’t like the fact that he cuts a frustrated figure on the pitch but that needs to change and soon. It is a shame this is happening.
Anthony Elanga should start on the left for United. Marcus Rashford has been uninspiring in the last two matches. Granted he’s had chances but his decision making has not paid off. Elanga has the ability to propel himself into the first team. His talent and desire is outstanding.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Hannibal Mejbri; Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani
The substitutions need to count against Southampton. Fresh from their victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday evening, added to the victory over Coventry City and the draw with Manchester City, they will be seeking to get one over United.
I expect to see Dean Henderson on the bench again, possibly to see him given a chance next week. Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be available on the bench to reinforce the defence, which could well be needed in this match.
Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Hannibal Mejbri could offer something from the bench in the midfield as players will tire in this match. Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani could come off the bench and find a goal, if those starting cannot find the spoils needed in this match.
Written by John Walker