ARTICLES Opinion

Three Talking Points: Southampton 1-1 Manchester United

It was a disappointing result for Manchester United in their second Premier League game of the season. They were held to a draw against an energetic Southampton side who were close to snatching a result in the latter stages of the game, while United didn’t look like scoring as the final minutes were played.

After going behind in the first half to a Fred own-goal, United levelled things up with a Mason Greenwood stike after great combination between Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes but were unable to do what they did so many times last season, and find the winner to get all three points.

Here are the three main talking points from Southampton 1-1 Manchester United:

A midfielder is needed

If it wasn’t already glaringly obvious to you, this game would’ve shown why The Reds need a central midfield addition to the squad. Ole Gunnar Solskjær started the game with Fred and Nemanja Matic in the middle, with Scott McTominay on the bench with a slight knock.

Fred’s erratic play was evident throughout the game. Even though he offers some very useful progressive play and can be a good option when on form, the Brazilian is too often inconsistent and his 75% pass accuracy throughout the match was nowhere near good enough for a Manchester United midfielder.

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Playing passing straight into the feet of the opposition is a regular occasion when Fred has one of these games, but he does offer a great energy in the middle – something that his Serbian counterpart greatly lacks.

Matic did have a better game than his midfield partner, but against a semi-pressing Saints side; he could barely deal with the intensity. It might be possible for him to be involved in some games throughout the campaign, but there are problems if he is to start regular games for The Reds, especially with how the manager wants his midfielders to operate.

This, including McTominay’s lacklustre showing off the bench, shows why so many United fans have been desperate for another signing this window. Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane are both brilliant signings, but a good midfielder could propel this team forward. The current crop of midfielders are simply not good enough to mount a proper title challenge and this game was a clear reminder of that.

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Greenwood sharp & Pogba class

A disappointing result, but there were two standout performers for United in the game. Both Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba were impressive for United in the game and ultimately combined for the equaliser in the second half.

Firstly, Greenwood’s start to the season has been just as good as his end to the last one. With two goals in two games, he has showed why he should be playing through the middle whenever Edinson Cavani is not fully fit. Even though he started the game against Southampton on the right, the teenager was able to convert his chance inside the area in a position which you’d expect your striker to be.

Anthony Martial was so poor in his first start back from injury and with Greenwood’s impressive start to the season, it’s clear who should be manning the strike force when the experienced Cavani isn’t on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Paul Pogba continued to make his doubters look silly as he became the first player in Premier League history to register five assists in the first two games of a league campaign.

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It was only a couple weeks ago where many assumed that Pogba would revert back to his role in the double pivot, but it is as clear as day that he is tons more useful when he has the added freedom of playing as the ‘left winger’. Although he has clear license to drift across the pitch like Bruno Fernandes in order to make things click.

He was the main man for United – completing five dribbles and creating two chances – and looked sharp throughout the entire game. With the Frenchman looking class, Greenwood impressing and Jadon Sancho coming in; The Reds seem very strong on the flanks and that’s not even with Marcus Rashford in the fold.

Lingard ahead of Van de Beek?

At 1-1, Ole Gunnar Solskjær needed a goal and it was very interesting to see him turn to Jesse Lingard for the last 10 minutes of the match instead of Donny van de Beek.

The Dutchman had little success in his debut season at Old Trafford, but with a decent pre-season under his belt, where he’s also gained important muscle to deal with the demands of the English game, many believed he would play a larger role this season – and he still could.

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However, the fact that his manager turned to a player who should really be leaving the club this summer shows that van de Beek doesn’t quite have the trust of his manager yet.

He has played in a deeper role throughout pre-season matches but the former Ajax player excels in the final third and there were surely many eyebrows raised when United’s no.14 took to the field ahead of him.

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