|Southampton 0 v 0 Manchester United|
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 17th May 2017 Kick-off 19:45
Saints V Manchester United The Preview !
Wednesday, 17th May 2017 14:31
Manchester United along with Spurs are just about the only teams that we have failed to beat at St Mary's since our return to the Premier League, tonight we try to change that.
It has been almost 14 years since Manchester United tasted defeat on Southampton soil, August 2003 to be exact when an 88th minute James Beattie goal gave us a 1-0 win.
Since then they have played five league games and another three in the FA Cup and we have failed to win a single one of them, in fact we have only managed a single draw with the other seven games ending in defeat, that draw being three years ago when Ricky Lambert scored in his final ever appearance for Saints on 11th May 2014 .
So it is about time we won at St Mary's and in doing so guarantee ourselves a top ten finish whatever happens and more than likely 8th.
The problem is what side will Claude Puel put out, the wholesale changes against Middlesbrough indicated that the Frenchman has learn't nothing from the first half of the season and that is worrying.
He rested several key players and you would expect them to return this evening, but he should perhaps realise that perhaps some of them needed dropping rather than just a rest and that some of those who came in performed better than those they replaced.
This being the case Puel with a virtual full squad at his disposal barring Virgil Van Dijk needs to put out the strongest side, we have a great chance of finishing 8th and a win tonight will make that 99% certain, but we need to get the points under our belt and then worry about resting people.
The wholsesale changes on Saturday reminded me too much of the debacle in Prague where Puel gambled on wholesale changes doing the job when just a point would have virtually guaranteed qualification, then it failed miserably with disastrous consequences, on Saturday Puel again gambled and this time got lucky.
Having done that once he needs to learn that age old adage of taking every game as it comes, for tonight he needs to put out the best side he has at his disposal, no mixing or matching or resting, there are two games left get the job done in the first of these games, don't gamble on the second being easier.
I would like to see a line up as follows
Soares Yoshida Caceres Bertrand
Davis Clasie Romeu
Long Gabbiadini Redmond
Subs Hassen, Stephens , JWP, Rodriguez, Tadic, Hojbjerg, Boufal.
This is a balanced side aiming to keep the work rate going stopping United playing and then getting the ball wide quickly on the break to catch them on the hop, just as we did for the first goal on Saturday.
The bench has the balance of having cover in all areas but concentrating on having the ability to chane the attacking options.
Harsh on Pied not to get the nod over Stephens and difficult to leave out Charlie Austin and I would be tempted to leave Boufal out and put Austin on the bench if I'm honest and I am still undecided.
But overall I see this as the strongest starting line up at our disposal and a strong bench, it can only go wrong if Puel starts to tinker and decides that Bertrand and Romeu need resting or something like that.
This season will not be remembered fondly by many, but it hasn't been a bad one, just one that has been frustrating due to the stop start nature and the inconsistency.
Saints have a chance to end it on a high and if they can make it three wins in a row then perhaps like the last two seasons it will put it in a little more perspective for some.
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