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Preview: Manchester United to continue unbeaten away run Southampton, aiming to match Arsenal’s 27-match run

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Southampton -v- Manchester United

Premier League

St Mary’s, Southampton

Sunday 22 August 2021, KO 14:00 BST

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Ian Hussin, Richard West

Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett

VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Lee Betts

Manchester United travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. It is the second match of the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and after the 5-2 destruction of Leeds United at Old Trafford last weekend, he will be confident of another three points in the bag this weekend. However, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Southampton will be seeking to get back to winning ways in the league this season after their 3-1 defeat to Everton last weekend. United have the added benefit of know they took all six points against Southampton last season, winning 3-2 in they fixture, which included a late winner by Edinson Cavani, also winning 9-0 at Old Trafford just over two months later. This is a new season though and there is nothing granted in football. United will be tested, like they always have been at St Mary’s.

United sit top of the league at the time of writing, but that will change before a ball is kicked at St Mary’s on Sunday. Liverpool, Brentford, Everton and Watford all play before United this weekend and as they all won last weekend, they have a good chance of earning six points from their first two matches this season – which is also what United will be seeking to achieve on Sunday. Tottenham Hotspur kick off at the same time as United, and after beating Manchester City last weekend, will be seeking to start strongly, despite their defeat in the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League against Paços de Ferreira on Thursday. Chelsea will go head to head with Arsenal for their chance to challenge for the top spot in the league in the second week of the season. United will have many challengers this season and they will need to work hard to reach the promised land.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WWDLW

Leeds United 5-1 W, Everton 4-0 W, Brentford 2-2 D, Queens Park Rangers 4-2 L, Derby County 2-1 W

Goals: 3 – Bruno Fernandes, 1 – Mason Greenwood, Fred

Assists: 4 – Paul Pogba, 1 – Victor Lindelof

Southampton – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LLWWW

Everton 3-1 L, Athletic Club 3-1 L, Levante 1-0 W, Swansea City 3-1 W, Cardiff City 4-0 W

Goals: 1 – Adam Armstrong

Assists: 1 – Che Adams

Previous meetings with Southampton and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Southampton have met a total of 44 times in the Premier League. United have won 28 matches, drawing nine with the Saints winning seven times. The Red Devils have scored a grand total of 96 goals against Southampton with the South Coast club scoring 50 against United. The Red Devils have won four penalties against the Saints, scoring two of them with the Saints winning one penalty against United and failing to score it. United have kept a total of 12 clean sheets with the Saints keeping just six. Based on the history of these two clubs, there have not really been many discipline issues between the two clubs with United players being shown 57 yellow cards and one red card and the Saints players being shown 72 yellow cards and three red cards. There is no really rivalry between these clubs but it can be a cup final for the Saints.

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. He is the player that has proven himself the most in the last few years and could be considered as one of the best left-backs in world football at this time. His form last season and for England during Euro 2020 has been great for him He also started the season well against Leeds United at the Theatre of Dreams last weekend as United won 5-1. Other players to have played for both clubs are Danny Wallace, Danny Higginbotham, Joe Jordan, Mark Hughes, Morgan Schneiderlin and Andrei Kanchelskis. This match will see United wear their new third kit for the first time – some may compare it to a match at the Dell in 1996.

Team News: Four players on the sidelines for United with other that could be involved from the bench. The Saints have two players on the sidelines with a strong squad other than that.

Marcus Rashford (shoulder), Alex Telles (ankle) and Dean Henderson (fatigue) have been ruled out of this match with Phil Jones (knee) also stepping up his recovery after missing the entire 2020/21 season. The good news is that Edinson Cavani and Eric Bailly both returned to training at the start of the week after an extended break following participation in Copa America and the Olympics respectively. Raphael Varane has been training with his new teammates this week and despite missing the behind closed doors match against Burnley at Old Trafford earlier in the week, could be involved against the Saints from the start. United have a good squad of players this season with the new signings and the players already in the squad and there could be more changes ahead of the transfer window closing at the end of the month.

William Smallbone (knee) and Sam McQueen (knee) are the only players one the sidelines through injury ahead of United’s visit to St Mary’s this weekend. The 3-1 defeat to Everton may have knocked the confidence of Hasenhüttl’s squad and United 5-1 destruction of Leeds United will cause more unease over the visit and not to mention the 9-0 defeat at Old Trafford last season, there will be many worries for Southampton ahead of this match. Of course, United won 3-2 in this fixture last season, which was a lot closer than the 9-0 destruction of the club just over two months later. It took United an added time winner to take all three points back to the Theatre of Dreams and the Saints might be confident of that result. That said, United seem to be stronger this season and in great form with players enjoying themselves.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the attack, Jadon Sancho to start on the right-wing and Raphael Varane to make his Premier League debut against Southampton?

Solskjaer will have been happy with what he saw last week, even with the absence of Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford from the squad and not starting Jadon Sancho or having the availability of Raphael Varane. United score five goals against Leeds United and both Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were in the form of their lives. More will be expected against Southampton after they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Everton, a team that United defeated 4-0 in their final pre-season match of the summer only a week before that match. United seem to be in great form at this time and keeping that running will be key to how the clubs starts the new Premier League season. There is one more match after this one before the first international break of the season and getting through both of them with three points from each match is the target.

Mason Greenwood should keep his place as the main striker in the match as he can do things that are special, which was shown against Leeds. Paul Pogba could play on the left-flank once again, despite playing better in the deeper role against Leeds with Bruno Fernandes playing in the middle and Jadon Sancho making his first start for United after coming on late in the match against Leeds. A midfield duo of Scott McTominay and Fred could be a good decision once again, must to the detest of the negative so-called supporters of the club who will moan about a defeat before a ball has even been kicked at St Mary’s on Sunday. In defence, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should keep their places in the fullback positions with Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane partnering each other in the centre of the defence for the first time. David De Gea should be in goal.

Match Prediction: Manchester United to make it 27 matches unbeaten on the road, matching Arsenal’s record between April 2003 and September 2004?

United overcame their first hurdle last weekend against Leeds United, winning 5-1 and sitting at the top of the Premier League heading into the second weekend of action. It was a good start for United, but overcoming the second hurdle of the season is just as imperative. Solskjaer will be happy with what he saw last weekend, especially with the four assists by Paul Pogba and the hat-trick scored by Bruno Fernandes. Fred will be happy with his first goal of the season and Mason Greenwood will be happy with his, as will the supporters of the club after he showed his predatory style of play, which was great with the absence of Edinson Cavani, who is the clubs first-choice striker at this present time. United will be seeking to go out with all guns blazing against the Saints, who will need to find the resolve to avert a disaster.

It could well be that Solskjaer will unleash the likes of Greenwood, Pogba, Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Scott McTominay, Fred, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and David De Gea against Southampton, opting not to make many changes from the victory over Leeds last week. It is possible that the likes of Jesse Lingard, Donny Van de Beek, Edinson Cavani or Anthony Martial could come off the bench to inspire United to victory, which if the form they are in after the 4-0 pre-season victory over Everton and the demolition of Leeds last weekend puts them in at this important stage of the season. United will have one more match, on the road again, against Wolverhampton Wanderers next weekend ahead of the first International break of the season. Keeping their unbeaten away run and seeking to match Arsenal’s record of 27 unbeaten.

Southampton 1-4 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW