Manchester United will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they play hosts to Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The games continue to come thick and fast in the Premier League, with Gameweek 25 of the 2021/22 season beginning on Saturday. Manchester United will be involved in the first match of the latest round of fixtures, with Southampton being their visitors for the lunch-time kick-off.
The 2021/22 campaign has been one to forget for Manchester United, who have not even won half of their games thus far. The latest setback was a 1-1 draw with Burnley earlier this week, which came on the back of their FA Cup ouster against Middlesbrough. The poor results in the league have left the Red Devils lagging in the top-four chase, with West Ham United a point ahead.
On the other hand, Southampton’s early season travails seem a thing of the distant past, with the Saints in contention for a top-half finish. With 18th-placed Norwich City 11 points adrift in the drop zone, relegation is highly unlikely, which has been a direct consequence of just one defeat in their last seven Premier League games.
The reverse fixture played at St. Mary’s back in August ended in a 1-1 draw, with Mason Greenwood earning Manchester United a point after an own goal by Fred handed Southampton the lead. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
? "I speak regularly to the players about how they feel and I know they realise how much they've developed and improved their performances, especially in control of the ball," adds Ralf.
"Now it's about taking the next step." ?#MUFC | #MUNSOU
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 11, 2022
Ralf Rangnick does not have any fresh injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Southampton. On Saturday, the Manchester United interim boss will be bereft of the services of four first-team players.
Eric Bailly continues to recover from an ankle injury he sustained during international duty with Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Nemanja Matic is struggling to overcome a shin issue. Fred is still sidelined due to his ongoing battle with COVID-19, while Mason Greenwood is suspended until further notice.
Harry Maguire was dreadful in the 1-1 draw with Burnley and could be punished by getting axed from the starting eleven. Rangnick has already shown that he has no qualms about dropping the Manchester United captain, and Victor Lindelof could replace him as Raphael Varane’s central defensive partner.
Out wide, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw will continue as the two full-backs, and the duo will be responsible for providing dangerous deliveries into the box from the flanks. In goal, there is no looking past David de Gea.
Scott McTominay will continue as the lone defensive midfielder for Manchester United, with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba being the two creative outlets for the hosts. Marcus Rashford’s inconsistencies could cost him a place in the final third, with Anthony Elanga likely to start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho in the attacking unit.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): de Gea; Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Bruno Fernandes, McTominay, Pogba; Sancho, Ronaldo, Elanga
Like his counterpart in the Manchester United dugout, Ralph Hasenhuttl barely has any roster issues to contend with ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. The Southampton manager could miss out on only four first-team players on Saturday.
Alex McCarthy and Lyanco continue to be sidelined due to their respective hamstring injuries, but Nathan Tella and Nathan Redmond will face late fitness tests to determine their availability to take on Manchester United.
It's time to hear from the boss ?
Ralph Hasenhüttl previews #SaintsFC's trip to #MUFC: https://t.co/Ww8rBAdh1X
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 11, 2022
Fraser Forster will continue between the sticks in McCarthy’s absence, with Southampton lining up in their usual 4-4-2 formation. Jan Bednarek and the impressive Mohammed Salisu will pair up at the heart of the Southampton defence, with Valentino Livramento and Romain Perraud being the two full-backs.
Up ahead in midfield, James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu will have the onus on them to keep things tight in the middle of the park, restricting the creative output of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
Out wide, Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi will look to provide a direct threat going into the final third. Finally, Che Adams and Armando Broja will form the strike partnership for Southampton, with the latter being the most potent option for the visitors against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; Stuart Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Elyounoussi; Adams, Broja
- Manchester United are unbeaten in 11 league meetings with Southampton since a 1-0 home defeat in January 2016 (W5 D6). The Red Devils have earned a Premier League record 36 points from losing positions against Southampton.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in 23 home league matches in February since losing 2-1 to Manchester City in February 2008 (W18 D5).
- Southampton are vying to win consecutive league matches for just the second time this season, while it has been 15 months since they earned three straight victories in all competitions. The Saints have only lost once in nine games, including two FA Cup ties, and both scored and conceded in all of those fixtures.
- Manchester United have only scored nine goals in as many league games at Old Trafford. United’s failure to score in four home matches this season is already more than in the entirety of 2020/21. On the other hand, Southampton have not kept a clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League games, the longest such run in the top-flight.
- Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in five goals in his four league appearances against Southampton, scoring twice and assisting three.
Player to Watch
There are several eye-catching players set to take the field for Manchester United and Southampton on Saturday. Names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Armando Broja immediately spring to mind, but a defender will be the Player to Watch in the game.
The Ghanaian defender has become a colossal defender following a slow start to life as a Southampton player and has delivered the goods more often than not this term. With Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal drought stretching to five games across all competitions, Salisu will look to extend the streak further. That, in turn, will be crucial in earning Southampton a point or three in another important fixture.
Manchester United 1-1 Southampton
Things have changed a lot since Manchester United 9-0 mauling of Southampton around this time last year. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is no longer at the helm at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils losing their potency in the final third. On the other hand, the Saints have been in ascendancy in recent weeks.
As has been the case in recent weeks, Manchester United should dominate the proceedings, but their finishing will once again leave a lot to be desired. That should give Southampton a route back into the match, with Armando Broja likely to find the back of the net to deny Manchester United all three points. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw.
MUN 0~1 SOU