Manchester United vs. Southampton PREVIEWGriffochaz
PREVIEW: Manchester United vs. Southampton
DATE: Monday 13th July 2020
VENUE: Old Trafford
COMPETITION: Premier League
CHANNEL: Sky Sports Main Event/Sky One/PICK
OFFICIAL: Chris Kavanagh
PREMIER LEAGUE FORM
Manchester United – DWWWW
Southampton – WLWWD
Manchester United have a chance of a lifetime staring them right in the face on Monday where a win is needed to fully capitalise on Chelsea and Leicester’s monumental slip ups against Sheffield United and Bournemouth respectively. Unfortunately for the ‘Red Devils’, the Saints are in town hoping to turn Solskjaer’s heaven into hell.
This is a game that United can’t afford to lose and can’t afford to overlook either. Southampton have been in relatively good form post lockdown, form that has included a win against Man City, so they shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially with a golden boot chaser in Danny Ings leading their line.
A win would take Man United into third for the first time in 2020 with three games still to go in a tight race for Top 4 but let’s just say history doesn’t serve United well in scenarios where Chelsea have dropped points prior to a United game this season.
The pressure is on but with the world watching, can they keep their composure and relieve some stress of their backs in this nail biting Champions League fight to the death or will ‘The Saints’ shine the light of shame over the fiery ‘The Red Devils’?
The last time United and Southampton’s paths crossed was on the final day of August 2019 where United where coming off a shock defeat to Crystal Palace while Southampton were coming into the game off of their first win of the season against Brighton.
The game on the south coast started perfectly for ‘The Red Devils’ as Dan James, who was inform at this point in the season, opened the scoring within the first ten minutes. Man United couldn’t find a second and was defending a fragile one goal lead throughout the game until Danish international Jannik Vestergaard capitalised on poor United defending and scored from a corner to make it one all.
The game was made more interesting as Kevin Danso was sent off for a second bookable offence for a lunging tackle on Scott Mctominay. However, Southampton held on for 20 minutes with ten men and managed to escape with a point.
This game was far from entertaining and showed both sides at their worst. Here’s hoping tonight’s encounter is far more thrilling and more rewarding for this United side.
Manchester United Team News
Man United seem to have found their best starting XI and have started them the past four games, however with matches coming thick and fast, just the three this week for United, changes need to be made in order to retain squad fitness and sharpness.
At the end of the day, this game is the most important of the week with a win taking United into third. Palace on Thursday and Chelsea on Sunday rounds off a tough old week, but this is the big match of the next seven days, especially with Chelsea and Leicester’s losses, so the squad needs to be strong against a solid Southampton team.
4-3-3 has done United the service recently and why would you change a winning formula?
David De Gea is three clean sheets away from 14 which is where Burnley’s Nick Pope is, leading the golden glove race. His late surge for the golden glove is surprising and despite a mistake against Bournemouth, his confidence is high coming off a clean sheet at Villa Park. Romero will get game time in one of the three games this week but against a firing Southampton with a clinical Danny Ings, De Gea needs to be in net and restore his shot stopping ability from 2018.
VERDICT: David De Gea
Everybody’s favourite spider had one of his worst games in a United shirt against Villa but still managed to hold off ‘The Villains’ and keep a clean sheet. Due to his performance, he was first to go off in the 66th minute for Brandon Williams in that game. That fills me with the confidence that AWB is fit enough to start this game. Let’s hope he is more comfortable tonight than he was last Thursday.
Harry Maguire is the only United player to have played every minute of every game for United since lockdown so definitely requires a rest but with a less deadly strike force coming up in Palace, that is where you give the captain the rest. He needs to start tonight in order to counter Danny Ings who isn’t the fastest striker in world football.
Eric Bailly has been far from his usual self since the restart but is still a good defender to have and is probably the fastest of United’s three main centre backs, so I’d save Bailly for the Palace gave to counter act the pace Ayew and Zaha would bring. That only means Victor Lindelof starts for United which despite a knock a few games back fills me with confidence against a deadly Saints attack.
Former Southampton full back Luke Shaw has also been a regular player in United’s plans post lockdown and has only missed 26 minutes of football since the restart. I reckon United should give Luke Shaw a break against his former club so he can be fully fit for the upcoming games. Luke Shaw is a better option than my pick Brandon Williams, but I feel with the defence at full strength bar Shaw, they can cope with Southampton’s forward play. #FreeBrandonWilliams
VERDICT: Aaron Wan Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams
Nemanja Matic has been the real MVP since the restart allowing both Pogba and Bruno to be more creative going forward. The Serbian, along with Wan Bissaka, was substituted in the 66th minute of the game at Villa so you would think he is fresh enough to start against Southampton. He may not be the best player at United, but he is one of the most important and that is why Solskjaer can’t afford to drop him for this must win game.
I’m really in two minds about this pick and truth be told I’ve started writing this paragraph with no idea on how it will end. Paul Pogba played the full hog against Villa which was 4 days ago but was giving it his all for the duration of the 90 minutes. So, does Pogba get rested for the upcoming encounters or does he start and United rest him on Thursday. Sod it. You don’t get Champions League football without taking a few risks so I’m advocating a start for Fred. He’s still a good player, admittedly not as good as World Cup winner Paul Pogba, and I reckon along with Matic, Fred can get forward more and help create plenty. Pogba can always come on for the final 20 if needs be and help swing the game in the favour of United if it’s not already.
Bruno Fernandes starts. He has been the leagues best player since the restart and is the heart of the team. His creative would be sorely missed if excluded so Fernandes must start, especially in the absence of Paul Pogba. Our Portuguese Magnifico starts. No doubt.
VERDICT: Nemanja Matic, Fred, Bruno Fernandes
If you haven’t clicked off already because of my Pogba admission, then thank you and I’m making up for it with the inclusion of one of the hottest players on the planet right now Dan James. Did you not read above where he scored within ten minutes in the last meeting? I’m joking of course and despite me being a big fan of James, you can’t take Mason Greenwood out the team, you just can’t. That man, if you can call an 18-year-old boy a man, knows where the goal is and can find it in any given scenario. This is a no brainer and one of the easiest selections in this preview.
Over to the left now and again this one has thrown up a few questions. If there has been one player since the restart that hasn’t been on his usual form, it’s Marcus Rashford and I think Ole picking him every game is doing his confidence a world of good. With Rashford, it’s just a case of when not if. He’s recently returned from a serious back injury so can’t afford to play every minute of every game, so the question is rest him now or rest him later. I’ve chosen later and there is one main reason for that, and he comes in the next paragraph. His match sharpness still needs building up, so I say give him the first 60 and judge from there. He may not be the goal machine he was pre-injury but his eye for assisting has improved massively and a creative force on the left is what is needed against a tight Southampton backline.
Now time for the main man, Anthony Martial. He must start and not only because he’s my Fantasy Team captain, an attacker listed as a midfielder is a no brainer, but because he and Rashford go together like birds of a feather. Martial is at his best when he has Rashford to his left and with that I have no doubt Martial can get a couple in todays game. Ighalo will be vital in this jam-packed week but he doesn’t start this game ahead of Tony. This is his sort of game.
VERDICT: Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial
Southampton Team News
Fortune continues to strike for United as Southampton have spent a lot of time in the medical facility, so much so they got a loyalty card out of it.
Southampton are without key players Sofiane Boufal and Moussa Djenepo which is lucky considering the lack of pace in United’s centre back area. Both have leg injuries and will miss the rest of the season.
Jannick Vestergaard, who netted the equalise last time out, will likely miss the game due to a thigh injury and full back Yan Valery, who has also netted against United, will also miss the game due to a muscle injury.
Southampton likely line-up can be found below
I’d like to say I’m as confident as other United fans but having sat through countless missed opportunities this season, I’m tentative about tonight. This will be the hardest game since lockdown, and I think the beating teams 3-0 phase has ended for now. I’m going a tight 2-1 win. Come on United.
VERDICT: Manchester United 2-1 Southampton
What’s your verdict on the game? Comment below