Manchester United are back in action to host Southampton in the Premier League this Saturday.
After two disappointing results United will be looking to convert their promising starts of late into all three points against the Saints.
Manchester United’s performances have been trending upwards but recent results have caused frustration within the fan base.
Last time out, the Reds dropped points against Burnley after an impressive first half performance that was unravelled by an early second half goal for The Clarets. A similar story could be told of the FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough but with more severe repercussions as United were knocked out of the competition on penalties.
United’s last victory came against West Ham in what was a strong team performance capped off by a last gasp winner from Marcus Rashford. The Reds currently sit in 6th place with a game in hand over The Hammers who are a point ahead of them.Embed from Getty Images
Southampton will not be an easy game, and already proved preivously to be a difficult opponent for United, by earning a point when they met earlier this season. The Saints have won three of their last five games and find themselves sitting 10th in the table.
Morale for them will be high after coming off a thrilling 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in a game that manager Ralph Hasenhüttl claimed was the best performance of his tenure so far.
Alex Telles has been pictured back at Carrington and training amongst the squad, and could be involved after having to isolate due to COVID-19.
Fellow Brazilian Fred is still recovering from the virus and won’t be available for selection and Eric Bailly is still unavailable after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations with a swollen ankle.
Ralf Rangnick will have options available to him as Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard both featured at Turf Moor after their allocated days off. Victor Lindelof has been back to training this week and was included in the squad that travelled to Burnley after overcoming illness.
Mason Greenwood’s ongoing club suspension means he won’t play for the club until further notice.
Rangnick hinted in press conference that Maguire will start against Southampton on Saturday.
Chelsea youngster Armando Broja appeared to pick up a head injury in the win against Spurs but was able to play on. Tino Livramento is being treated after a knee problem but could feature for the Saints at Old Trafford.
Lyanco is out with a hamstring injury and joins Alex McCarthy, Nathan Tella and Nathan Redmond on the Southampton injury list.
Ones to Watch
Two players to keep an eye on in this fixture are Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho. The Frenchman has been back in action after injury and has been one of United’s positives in their recent games.
Having a player of Pogba’s ability and creativity is a benefit to any side and the World Cup winner looks as if he is ready to carry on the hot form that he began the season with.
Last time out he scored his first goal of the season and Rangnick’s 4-3-3 could allow us to see Pogba being more influential in the final third.Embed from Getty Images
As for Jadon Sancho, the summer signing has been beginning to find his feet at United with performances gradually improving.
Sancho netted his first Old Trafford goal in the FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough and was one of the better performers against Burnley.
Interestingly enough, he has been starting on the left wing whereas many would’ve thought he was the obvious choice to fill the gaping hole on the right – this could be a positive though, as Sancho needs a consistent spot to nail down as his confidence grows.
Sancho is a player who thrives in scenarios where he can combine with players around him and if Manchester United can get combinations of Sancho, Pogba and Luke Shaw going consistently on their left hand side it could add a further dimension to their attacking play.
Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)
David De Gea;
Diogo Dalot, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw;
Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba;
Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho.
Time to Start Picking Up Points
With The Reds being knocked out of both domestic cup competitions the focus must now turn to securing Champions League qualification for this season. While Manchester United’s performances have been improving steadily, they need to start collecting all three points if they want to secure top four this season.
While dropping points at Turf Moor was a setback United still have a game in hand on West Ham and can leap-frog them with a win against Southampton. Picking up wins in the league could also be huge for gaining momentum going into the Champions League knockout stages where they will face off against Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.