Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
A week after a dispiriting home defeat by Crystal Palace, Manchester United need a win to get their Premier League campaign back on track. Having picked up four points from a not especially challenging first three fixtures, they’ll find themselves already falling behind the teams at the top if they can’t prevail over Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton.
The Saints got their first victory of the campaign last weekend, going to Brighton and taking advantage of a red card for the Seagulls’ forward Florin Andone to win 2-0. Still sitting in the bottom three after a sluggish start to the season, the South Coast side will hope to take some inspiration from Palace’s achievement in overcoming the big-spending Red Devils. Meanwhile, controversy-watchers will be keeping their eye out for any penalties awarded to the visitors – they’ve missed two in their last two games.
Southampton vs Manchester United Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Manchester United
In recent seasons, St Mary’s has not been an especially happy hunting ground for United – with more draws in recent times than wins, there’s something about this trip that doesn’t bring the best out in them. Add to that the fact that main striker Anthony Martial seems set to miss this game through injury, and there is incentive for Saints fans to feel confident. This is a big game for United, and for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was backed with hard cash in the summer to fix the team’s defence – but we’ve seen precious little outside of the second half in their 4-0 win over Chelsea to suggest this is a side ready to hit the front – and Southampton could take advantage for a point here.
Our recommended tip: Southampton score first
There is an anxiety about Manchester United right now that makes every game a struggle; it’s concerning to think what their points total would be right now had Chelsea taken any of the several openings they created in the first half on the season’s opening weekend. Against Wolves, they took the lead but couldn’t get over the line, and the less said about last week the better. While Southampton don’t look like a top-half side, under Hasenhuttl they have developed a pressing game that exploits nervy sides, and that’s something that will worry United fans. Betway have 7/5 on the hosts scoring first, and it may be worth a punt.
United were the winners the last time these sides went up against one another, although it was a hard-won victory at Old Trafford with the winning goal only coming on 88 minutes through Romelu Lukaku. Saints had in fact taken the lead on 25, Yann Valery notching the opener before Andres Pereira and Lukaku steered the hosts ahead. James Ward-Prowse’s goal then levelled the scores on 75 before the late drama. Back in December, in the last St Mary’s meeting, Southampton went 2-0 up inside twenty minutes through Armstrong and Soares. By half-time it was 2-2, Lukaku and Herrera dragging the Red Devils back into the game, but neither side could unhook a second-half winner.
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Players to watch: Che Adams & Marcus Rashford
Purchased from Birmingham for a £15million fee, Adams is an undoubtedly talented striker who has been tipped for big things. Mobile and a good finisher, the Leicester-born player can play anywhere across the front three, and he is just the man to exploit any gaps that United may leave. He’s not found the net yet in Saints colours, but making the move from the Championship to the lower half of the Premiership can be heavy weather, and a goal here today may help him come good.
After the 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace, a lot of attention (much of it from bigoted idiots on social media) fell on Marcus Rashford’s penalty miss. This was entirely unfair, as his spot-kick was well struck, and more ire might be reserved for how the team allowed their opposition to re-take the lead after an 89th-minute equaliser. Rashford may be pushed into a central role due to Martial’s injury, and he’s shown that to be a role he can perform with panache. He’s certainly the most likely goalscorer for the visitors here.