Preview: Southampton will press United and won’t be scared – United need to show desire

Being unable to close down the opposition needs to change if United are to prevail

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Manchester United -v- Southampton

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 12 February 2022, KO 12:30 GMT

Referee: Stuart Attwell Assistants: Adam Nunn, Nick Hopton

Fourth Official: David Coote

VAR: Jarred Gillett Assistant VAR: Neil Davies

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.

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

Burnley 1-1 D, Middlesbrough 1-1 (8-7) L, West Ham United 1-0 W, Brentford 3-1 W, Aston Villa 2-2 D, Aston Villa 1-0 W

Goals: 14 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 7 – Bruno Fernandes, 6 – Mason Greenwood, 5 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jadon Sancho, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, 1 – Anthony Elanga, Own Goal, Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 12 – Bruno Fernandes, 7 – Paul Pogba, 4 – Fred, Luke Shaw, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic 1 – Edison Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Raphael Varane

Southampton – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WWDLWW

Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 W, Coventry City 2-1 W, Manchester City 1-1 D, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 L, Brentford 4-1 W, Swansea City 3-2 W

Goals: 8 – Armando Broja, 7 – Mohamed Elyounoussi, 6 – Che Adams, James Ward-Prowse, 3 – Jan Bednarek, Kyle Walker-Peters, 2 – Adam Armstrong, Nathan Redmond, 1 – Stuart Armstrong, Ibrahima Diallo, Valentino Livramento, Shane Long, Mohammed Salisu, Nathan Tella

Assists: 7 – James Ward-Prowse, 6 – Nathan Redmond, 3 – Kyle Walker-Peters, 2 – Adam Armstrong, Ibrahima Diallo, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Oriol Romeu, Nathan Tella, 1 – Che Adams, Armando Broja, Shane Long, Romain Perraud, Yan Valery

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.

Team News: Two players out for United with one on the way back to fitness; The Saints have three players out with one returning to fitness who might not make this match.

Manchester United: Fred (Illness) and Alex Telles (Illness) have recently tested positive with coronavirus, so will be out for this match as well as the draw with Burnley. Eric Bailly (Ankle/Foot) came back from the Africa Cup of Nations with a bruised ankle and has a 50% chance.

United will need to find some form and work on their defence ahead of this match. Against both Middlesbrough and Burnley, United were good in the first halves of the matches, but became poor after the break, making defensive mistakes. Perhaps Harry Maguire should be benched?

Southampton: Lyanco (Thigh), Alex McCarthy (Thigh) and Nathan Tella (Groin/Hip/Pelvic) look set to miss out against United on Saturday afternoon. Nathan Redmond (Ankle/Foot) has a 50% chance ahead of this match, so it could be that he misses out too.

The Saints will be seeking to take advantage of this United side after their poor results in the last two matches and the victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City, plus the draw against Manchester City will give them the confidence to strike at Old Trafford once again.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Elanga and Sancho to start in attack against the Saints? McTominay, Pogba and Fernandes in the midfield?

Rangnick will need to change a few things to get United heading in the right direction. Harry Maguire’s performance against Burnley was terrible and he deserves to lose his place. This is not the right way for a captain to lead and perhaps that role should be removed too?

In the last two matches, United have performed well in the first half, failing to make an impact in the second half. Something needs to come forward as a solution to this. Is it fatigue, bad sportsmanship, or just a lack of desire causing this problem? Who knows?

David De Gea should keep his place in goal as he is the best goalkeeper at the club, although Dean Henderson will be looking to battle him for his position. Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw should keep their places, as should Raphael Varane but Harry Maguire should be dropped for Phil Jones.

Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes should start in the midfield as it offers a good mix of pedigree and ability. Jadon Sancho should keep his starting place, moving over to the right-wing and Anthony Elanga on the left. Cristiano Ronaldo should start this match.

Match Prediction: United have beaten Southampton 67 times in all competitions, drawing 35 matches and losing 28. However, the Saints are in good form and United have problems.

Last season United beat Southampton twice. In this fixture at Old Trafford, it was a 9-0 thriller for United with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, a Jan Bednarek own goal, Edinson Cavani, an Anthony Martial brace, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes (penalty) and Daniel James all scoring.

In the reverse fixture at St Mary’s, United won 3-2 with Fernandes and a Cavani brace sealing the victory with Bednarek and James Ward-Prowse scoring for the Saints, putting them 2-0 up in the opening 33 minutes – United coming from behind to get the win.

Earlier this season, it was a 1-1 draw between the two sides as United’s form dropped considerably from one season to the next. This will be an important match for United as they are running out of chances to break into the top four, which could see their season become much worse.

After exiting the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of Middlesbrough, albeit on penalties and falling to a 1-1 draw with Burnley on Tuesday evening, United and Rangnick need to start getting things right and holding their opposition to account ensuring all three points are in the bag this weekend.

Manchester United 2-1 Southampton

Written by John Walker

About John Walker 1551 Articles
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.