Manchester United seek a fifth consecutive league victory when they travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton on Monday (20:00 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Southampton have suffered some set-backs over the last couple of weeks but are still riding high in the Premier League table after a strong start to the campaign. They were third prior to this weekend’s fixtures, with 26 points from eight wins, two draws and four defeats.
Ronald Koeman’s side gave a good account of themselves against Arsenal on Wednesday, before eventually falling to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of a late winner from Alexis Sanchez. They were well-organised in defence and carried a threat on the counter-attack, but Arsenal still created enough chances to consider themselves worthy victors, despite Saints’ best efforts.
It was the third consecutive match in which Southampton have dropped points, coming on the back of a draw away to Aston Villa and defeat at home to Manchester City. In addition to the defeats to Arsenal and City, they have also lost to Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur so far this season. United (twice), Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal still await before mid-January.
Koeman has done an excellent job since replacing Mauricio Pochettino this summer but will have his work cut out in guiding his side through such a tough run of fixtures. Particularly so at a point in the season where the regular stream of matches will test his relatively small squad to its limit. Some disciplined defensive performances may be required to navigate this difficult stretch.
Koeman will definitely be without the injured Jack Cork (ankle), Jay Rodriguez (knee) and Morgan Schneiderlin (thigh) for this match, while James Ward-Prowse (foot) and Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) are doubtful.
Man Utd made a slow start to the season but have started to find their rhythm over the last month or so, recording four consecutive victories. They were fourth in the Premier League table prior to this weekend, with 25 points from seven wins, four draws and three defeats.
Louis van Gaal’s (pictured) side had the better of Tuesday’s match at home to Stoke City but still had goalkeeper David de Gea to thank for two excellent late saves than protected their 2-1 lead, established through strikes from Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata. Fellaini and Michael Carrick performed well in midfield, while Marcos Rojo was impressive at centre-back.
Positive signs are emerging as United enter their fifth month under Van Gaal’s command. They may still be seven points down on the number of points they gained from the same fixtures last season but with none of the supposed contenders for a top four finish looking particularly great at this stage, their recent strong form has put them in a good position.
Injuries have been a consistent source of concern for Van Gaal in his short time in charge to date and have certainly hampered his attempts to implement any drastic tactical or stylistic changes. His side still lack a little pace and incision in the final third, but he does look to be putting a solid framework in place for when he has more of his first-choice players available.
Van Gaal will definitely be without the injured Angel Di Maria (hamstring), Daley Blind (knee), Luke Shaw (ankle) for the trip to the south coast, while Phil Jones (shin) and Rafael (muscle) are doubtful. Johnny Evans and Wayne Rooney will be available after recovering from their respective injuries.
Southampton v Man Utd Betting Tips
These two sides drew 1-1 in last season’s equivalent fixture and also shared the same scoreline in the reverse at Old Trafford. Prior to that, Southampton had lost every one of their previous eight encounters against United in all competitions. Their last home victory over United came back in 2003, when James Beattie scored a late winner at St Mary’s.
Southampton will be keen to take at least a point. They are in the midst of a difficult run of fixtures, with their next four home matches seeing them square off against sides who finished above them last season. They will, however, feel that they are strong enough in defence and potent enough in attack to cause United problems.
Man Utd still have some flaws but recent results and performances suggest that Van Gaal is starting to have an impact, in spite of the club’s ongoing problems with injuries. Nevertheless, their away form has been very poor. The recent win at Arsenal was their first away victory of the season in all competitions, coming on the back of three draws and three defeats. We expect this to be a tightly contested match, with a draw the most likely outcome.
- Back the draw @ a best price of 5/2 with Betfred.
- Southampton have opened the scoring in five of their seven home matches in the Premier League this season and are likely to look to make another quick start, particularly on the back of dropping seven points in recent fixtures. Back Southampton to score first @ best odds of 11/10 with Bet365.