Southampton vs Manchester United always turns out to be one of those games where you expect nothing but are absolutely blown away by the result. A classic fixture, United would typically be the favorites, while Southampton were the underdogs sniffing an upset. How times have changed.
This season has been a completely different story for both teams, with neither of them even coming close to meeting their usually high standards. While many thought this would be the season United finally rediscover themselves and their title winning form, they are surprisingly already out of the title race after just 13 games. They currently sit 8th – 14 points off local rivals and league leaders Manchester City, and 7 points away from 4th placed Chelsea.
Southampton too have arguably stunned everyone with how poor they’ve been. They’ve only managed to get one win and a woeful total of 8 points from their 13 games so far and are only ahead of last placed Fulham on goal difference.
Both teams will be desperate to get a result that will push them higher up the table, with United hoping to fight for a Champions League spot and the Saints battling to avoid relegation. It is set to be an intense game, and here’s how Jose Mourinho’s men could line-up for it:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
United recently exercised the option to extend De Gea’s contract by a further year and despite his future being relatively up in the air, Mourinho is adamant that the Spaniard wants to stay.
Faces no real competition from Sergio Romero for a starting spot but last season’s golden glove winner remarkably only has two clean sheets in the Premier League so far. He’ll be hoping to have a quiet day against a Saints side that only have 10 goals to their name so far.
Defenders: Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Diogo Dalot
After missing last week’s game against Bournemouth due to suspension, Luke Shaw returns to the side to face off against the club whose academy he graduated from.
Phil Jones seems to be above Eric Bailly at the moment – evidence to how far the Ivorian has fallen in the eyes of Mourinho after that disaster class at Brighton. After Victor Lindelof got injured last week, Jones came in for the 1-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League and should start again today. Smalling seems to be the only defender with an assured place in the line-up at the moment and should retain his place at the heart of defense again.
As confirmed by Mourinho, it will be a Premier League debut for Diogo Dalot, who fans have been really excited to see after a few encouraging performances before injury struck.
Midfielders: Nemanja Matic, Fred, Paul Pogba
Matic is essentially untouchable in Mourinho’s line-up, despite a number of people hitting out at his poor form of late.
Summer signing Fred has been positive when given the chance to start, although he hasn’t gotten a lot of games so far. Despite the side putting in an average performance overall on Tuesday, Fred’s passing and movement of the ball into the forwards was lauded by fans. He should start.
Pogba was benched for the game against the Swiss outfit, but it was probably more about Mourinho resting him than dropping him. He will be crucial to United regaining ground on their rivals in the Premier League.
Forwards: Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford
Martial has been one of United’s best players this season (that list isn’t very long, mind you), and should be set to start again. He’s also their top scorer in the league with 6 pretty crucial goals so far.
Injury to Alexis Sanchez means Lukaku should regain his starting spot. Marcus Rashford has been used up front with the Belgian dropped due to his poor form, but Mourinho’s frustration with the club’s academy graduate was more than evident midweek. Rashford will probably still start, but is likely to be moved over to the right once more.