Preview: Weghorst is crucial for United to succeed; Rashford, Pellistri & Garnacho to start against Saints?

Varane, Antony & Fernandes on the bench - Martial back this weekend?

Manchester United -v- Southampton

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 12 March 2023, KO 14:00 GMT

Manchester United welcome Southampton to the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. United hit back from their 7-0 humiliation to Liverpool last weekend with a 4-1 victory over Real Betis in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg on Thursday evening. Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst all scored the goals in that match which gives United a three goal cushion in the second leg in Spain next week.

United sit in third place in the Premier League ahead of this weekends fixtures; four points ahead of fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur and seven points ahead of fifth placed Liverpool – both team play on Saturday with Liverpool facing Bournemouth and Spurs facing Nottingham Forest but neither can dislodge United from their position and United have a game in hand over Spurs, so they will be able to extend their lead at some point in the not too distant future.

Southampton sit in 19th place in the Premier League ahead of this match and will need wins to get out of the bottom three. That said, the bottom nine teams in the league are all at risk this season with six points from bottom to 12th so time will tell who can escape from the relegation zone this season. The Saints are heavily at risk because of their -21 goal difference. Bottom club Bournemouth have a -27 and Forest have a -24 – but they are five point better off.

Manchester United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Real Betis 4-1 W, Liverpool 7-0 L, West Ham United 3-1 W, Newcastle United 2-0 W, Barcelona 2-1 W, Leicester City 3-0 W

Goals: 26 – Marcus Rashford, 8 – Bruno Fernandes, 7 – Antony, 6 – Fred, Anthony Martial, 5 – Casemiro, Own Goal, Jadon Sancho, 4 – Alejandro Garnacho, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 2 – Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay, Wout Weghorst, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw

Assists: 10 – Bruno Fernandes, 9 – Christian Eriksen, 7 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Luke Shaw, 5 – Casemiro, 4 – Alejandro Garnacho, 3 – Fred, Wout Weghorst, 2 – Diogo Dalot, Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, 1 – Antony, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Southampton – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Leicester City 1-0 W, Grimsby Town 2-1 L, Leeds United 1-0 L, Chelsea 1-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Brentford 3-0 L

Goals: 9 – Che Adams, 8 – James Ward-Prowse, 4 – Romain Perraud, 2 – Carlos Alcaraz, Joe Aribo, Adam Armstrong, 1 – Stuart Armstrong, Dominic Ballard, Duje Caleta-Car, Moussa Djenepo, Roméo Lavia, Sékou Mara, Kyle Walker-Peters

Assists: 3 – Che Adams, James Ward-Prowse, 2 – Mohamed Elyounoussi, Sékou Mara, Romain Perraud, 1 – Adam Armstrong, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Moussa Djenepo, Roméo Lavia, Lyanco, Lewis Payne, Mohammed Salisu

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Southampton have met 47 times in the Premier League with United winning 29 matches, drawing 11 matches and Southampton winning seven. United have scored 99 goals, winning four penalties, scoring two. Southampton have scored 52 goals, winning one penalty, missing it. United will be seeking to get three points in the bag in the league at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday to keep their position in the top four secure this season, which is important.

United have kept 13 clean sheets with Southampton keeping six. Discipline has been an issue in this fixture with United players shown 67 yellow cards and one red card and Southampton players shown 74 yellow cards and three red cards. Southampton are 19th in the Premier League table prior to matches being played this weekend and they will be favourites for relegation. That said, there is a gap of six points between the bottom two and 12th position in the league.

Luke Shaw, Danny Wallace, Danny Higginbotham, Joe Jordan, Mark Hughes, Morgan Schneiderlin and Andrei Kanchelskis have all played for both United and Southampton over the years. Shaw is the only current player for United to have played at St Mary’s. Shaw made 67 appearances for Southampton before signing for United in 2014. He did not score any goals but got two assists at the club. Shaw has made 245 appearances for United, scoring four goals and 26 assists.

Team News

Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen are the only two players that have been ruled out because of injury at this stage of the season. Anthony Martial and Marcel Sabitzer are both doubts ahead of this match with both likely to be subject to a late fitness test before the match on Sunday. United have no other worries ahead of the visit of Southampton but will have more options ahead of the match after the performance against Real Betis on Thursday evening.

Facundo Pellistri took his chance again and showed his attacking prowess and his eye for a pass to help create the chance that led to Wout Weghorst’s second goal of the season. Pellistri is a player that needs to be given a better chance this season, as it could work for United. Alejandro Garnacho is another who has massive promise and will shine for United given the chance. Erik ten Hag has so many options and to avoid fatigue, utilising them is the key for United to succeed.

Valentino Livramento and Juan Larios have both been ruled out for Southampton’s visit to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon. Carlos Alcaraz has a sprain in his knee and will be subject to a late fitness test on Saturday to see if he can play a part in the squad against United. Ruben Selles has suggested that if the 20-year-old missed the United match he would be fit for the midweek clash with Brentford next week. Southampton will need to get out of their rut.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw;

Casemiro, Fred;

Pellistri, Weghorst, Garnacho;

Rashford

Predicted Southampton Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

Bazunu;

Maitland-Niles, Bednarek, Bella-Kotchap, Walker-Peters;

Ward-Prowse, Lavia;

Walcott, Elyounoussi, Sulemana;

Adams

Match Prediction

United and Southampton have met 132 times in competitive competition with United winning 68 times, drawing 36 times and losing 28 times. The first match was played in the FA Cup in 1897 – a 1-1 draw at Southampton before Newton Heath won 3-1 on their own turf four days later. Southampton have not beaten United since their 1-0 victory at Old Trafford on the 23 January 2016. In the 14 matches played since, United have won seven and drawn seven.

In the last 14 matches between the two sides, United have scored 29 goals, conceded 13 goals and keeping six clean sheets. The two sides met earlier this season at St Mary’s with United winning 1-0 with Bruno Fernandes scoring the only goal of the match. United are undefeated in the last 20 matches at Old Trafford, winning 18 and drawing three. In previous seasons going back some time, United seemed to be better away than at home – fortress Old Trafford?

United have turned another corner after the 7-0 humiliation to Liverpool in the Premier League last weekend by beating Real Betis at Old Trafford in a 4-1 thriller. United will be confident of winning their matches at the Theatre of Dreams and should be doubly confident of beating the likes of Southampton, who will no doubt raise their game against United but they should be doing it in each of the other 36 fixtures they face in a season – which is why they are relegation fodder.

Manchester United 3-0 Southampton

Written by John Walker

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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.