|Southampton 1 v 1 Manchester United|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 31st August 2019 Kick-off 12:00
Saints V Manchester United The Preview
Friday, 30th Aug 2019 11:59
Can Saints beat Manchester United at home for the first time in exactly 15 years, here we take a look at the chances of that happening.
It was on 31st August 2004 when James Beattie scored in the last minute to give us our last win on home soil against Manchester United, since then we have played them 8 times in the League, plus another 3 games in the FA Cup all we have managed is 3 solitary draws.
The good news is that all of them have come in the last 6 seasons so we have a chance.
If I was writing this preview at the start of the week then I would have said that we would have had more than just a chance, but the win at Fulham came at great cost, with both goalscorers in our win at Brighton last Saturday looking likely to miss the game against United plus the scorer at Fulham Michael Obafemi.
Nathan Redmond is head and shoulders our best player over the last 12 months is definitely sidelined, but perhaps Moussa Djenepo is not as bad as Ralph Hasenhuttl is making out and could take his place on the bench.
We do still have plenty of attacking options, we have Che Adams, Danny Ings and Shane Long and we also have Sofiane Boufal, all have the potential to step up to the plate and become the hero of the hour and we need them to do so.
It is not ideal losing any player let alone three who have made an impact this week, but we do have the squad to cover this loss, something that we did not have in the past couple of seasons.
The question though is how do we play this game, some fans will be demanding that we play the high press and take it to United, but I feel this could play into their hands, like Liverpool they can attack at pace on the counter and this is our weak spot.
There could be a tendency to try and push forward, after all United are short on attackers with both of last years scorers in this fixture Lukaku & Herrera now gone and with Martial set to miss the game through injury that leaves only Markus Rashford as a recognised experienced striker, what we don't want to do is give him the space to run at us.
We have to get a grip of the game at the back first and dictate how we want the game to be played, that means sitting deep and stopping them getting space behind us and then using our pace to go at them on the counter.
One thing we have to do though, is firstly not make any mistakes, like last season virtually everyone of our 5 goals conceded this season could have and should have been prevented and at Brighton we left a man completely unmarked in the final minute, luckily for us he hit the post when he really should have scored.
Secondly we have to take our own chances, against Liverpool and Brighton we missed good chances and we really have to start taking them.
With Ralph Hasenhuttl you are never quite sure what he will do and that is a good thing,he never likes to reveal his hand and so you are never sure if a player truly is not match fit or not for instance.
Against United though his hand might be a little forced due to injuries, I would hope that Ryan Bertrand is back in the side, he has trained and has only been out for a short while so if he has no reaction then there is no reason why he should not start, if he does not play I would bring in Cedric playing him and Valery as the wing backs.
Key man is Danny Ings, he does not get the plaudits he deserves, at Brighton some fans salivated over Sofiane Boufal's cross for the second goal, whilst completely overlookng Danny Ings contribution to the opener where he not only won the ball in his own half, but laid it off, got it back, made space and then hit a superb 35 yard cross field ball to Djenepo.
Ings can make space not only for himself, but others, he is a clever player, he can make things happen as he did at Brighton, but some only see the spectacular.
So my line up would be
Bednarek, Danso, Vestergaard
Hojbjerg, JWP, Romeu
Then depending on injuries etc, 2 from Cedric, Djenepo, Slattery, Stephens,
Overall the squad is stretched but still able to cope, it will be interesting to see if perhaps one of the players who could move in the next few days might make an appearance, obviously Mario Lemina has burned his bridges, but if they don't get a move then Wesley Hoedt and Moi Elyounoussi could be needed in the coming weeks, perhaps tomorrow.
This is a game that will help define the season, the League table doesn't make good reading until you look at the points total and realise we are only 1 point off visitors Manchester united in 5th.
This means that a win tomorrow would push us right up the table, a draw would be a solid start still, but defeat would make things look a little grim.
However our first four games have been a lot tougher than most, as I said I would have took 4 from 4 when I looked at the fixture list at the start of the season, even 3 our current total would not be a disaster, so in many ways we can play without fear after the win at Brighton.
But get a result in this game and it gives us confidence, as I said on Tuesday morning I would have been confident, injuries have hampered us, but we can still put out a decent side, some would say still stronger than the one that faced United last season just before Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived, when we were short in key areas and we did not have his tactical nous or the team spirit he has brought, that being the case there is all to play for as United are a worse side than they were in that game 9 months ago.
Who would you rather have managing from the two on display this weekend, I would not swap Ralph for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Photo: Action Images
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