Manchester United vs Southampton
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men moved out of the bottom three this week after a vital win over relegation rivals Fulham. The Saints have taken just 13 points out of a possible 39 since Hasenhüttl took over last December and are far from safety with Cardiff City just two points behind them in 18th.
Much was made of Hasenhüttl’s appointment last year but results haven’t quite panned out the way Saints fans would have wanted. Hasenhüttl may require more time to implement his system but Southampton’s performances have been patchy and they need to start getting points on the board at any cost if they are to avoid the drop this season.
Things can’t go much better in the Premier League for Manchester United and their interim manage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Their victory against Crystal Palace midweek was their eighth win in a row away from home which marked a new club record for the Red Devils.
United will be looking to get three points from Saturday’s fixture in order to stay in the race for top four this season. Old Trafford was electric when Untied faced Liverpool last week and the team will hope to reward their home fans with another impressive performance this weekend.
United are still in the throes of an injury crisis although players like Scott McTominay, Diogo Dalot and Romelu Lukaku stepped up against Palace midweek.
Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial look set to miss the action again this weekend as they continue to recover from injuries picked up in recent weeks. There are also question marks over the fitness of Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia.
With such an extensive injury list, players like Fred and Alexis Sanchez have the opportunity to impress their manager after poor performances this season. Fred and Sanchez’s performances against Palace were questionable but Solskjaer may opt to give the duo a run of games to build their confidence while McTominay has cemented his role as Matic’s replacement after impressive performances against Liverpool and Palace.
Southampton will be without wonderkid Michael Obafemi as the Irishman looks set to miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Southampton’s top goal scorer this season Danny Ings also looks set to miss out Saturday’s fixture along with midfielder Mario Lemina.
Goals are still Hasenhüttl’s biggest concern with Charlie Austin and Shane Long only scoring three goals between them this season so Ings will be a huge miss. Southampton will need the creativity of players like Ward-Prowse, Valery and Redmond if they are to pose any threat to David De Gea in the United goal.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, McTominay, Pogba; Dalot, Lukaku, Sanchez
Southampton (3-5-2): Gunn; Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bednarek; Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Bertrand, Højbjerg, Valery; Austin, Redmond
Score Prediction: Manchester United 3 Southampton 0
United have had an exceptional run of results since Solskjaer took over in December and they should be comfortable winners again this weekend. While Southampton will be desperate to put light between them and the relegation zone, I just can’t see them getting anything out of United at Old Trafford.