Man Utd host Southampton in the English Premier League at Old Trafford on Tuesday. The hosts have dropped five points in the last two matches and have seen their title aspirations take a massive knock. They now sit three points off Man City having played a match more and need to beat an injury-hit Southampton team who are in poor league form.
Man Utd Form
Having been on a fantastic 13-match run which featured 10 wins and three draws in the league, Man Utd stuttered somewhat in losing 2-1 to Sheffield United at home. That was followed by a 0-0 draw at Arsenal when they probably could have nicked a win in a tight match.
Man Utd had been scraping many recent victories and they are now just falling on the other side of the results, especially without Paul Pogba to bail them out from long range or a Bruno Fernandes penalty. Right now, United are still in good form but this game against Southampton will give a clear indication whether they’re on a downward trend or have just had a small blip.
Man Utd Team News
Man Utd have basically everyone available with the only doubt over Scott McTominay. He would not likely have started this match anyway as he is something of a big match specialist when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer uses an abrasive approach. Pogba should return to the midfield three with Anthony Martial coming in to start in a wide role.
Eric Bailly was back on the bench for the last match and will be hoping to start in place of Victor Lindelof.
Man Utd Motivation
Man Utd simply have to win. Their home record this season is far from good enough (11th best in the league) and they have to change that. When teams allow them to have the ball but no space in-behind, Solskjaer’s team often lack ideas and imagination. Luckily for them, Southampton tend to take teams on and won’t focus the puzzle of breaking down a deep block.
A draw would be a terrible result so Solskjaer will manoeuvre from the bench. If Edinson Cavani does not start, then expect him to be the first change after he turned the reverse fixture in November in Man Utd’s favour with two goals and an assist from the bench.
Saints are in very poor league form despite a couple of good FA Cup wins in-between that. Having beaten Liverpool 1-0 at home in early January, they have lost three league matches in a row; 2-0 at Leicester, 3-1 at home to Arsenal and a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
In all, they have one win and four defeats in their last eight Premier League matches as injuries take their toll on a very small squad. Goals have also dried up with five blanks in that eight game streak.
Southampton Team News
Ralph Hassenhuttl has many injuries to deal with. Jannick Vestergaard is still out with a knee injury at centre back and Kyle Walker-Peters is a doubt at right back. James Ward-Prowse covered in that position against Aston Villa but he is going to be needed in midfield again here. Both Ibrahima Diallo and Oriol Romeu went off injured in the last match in central midfield so options are thin. Theo Walcott also has a muscle injury and misses out, leaving a side with issues in all departments.
Considering their injury problems, there is no doubt that Hassenhuttl would take a draw from this match and consider it like a victory. With such a compromised midfield, Southampton could play much more defensively and passively in that area and instead focus on playing on the counter attack.
Expected less pressing than usual and a focus on keeping a clean sheet first and foremost with few options to turn the match from the bench. However, they tend to play a high defensive line and Man Utd would gratefully accept any invitation to hit the space in-behind.
Man Utd have lost 1 of their last 15 PL matches (W10, D4)
Man Utd have conceded 23 goals in their last 15 matches
Man Utd have lost 4 of their 10 home PL matches
Southampton have won 1 of their last 8 PL matches (D3, L4)
Southampton have failed to score in 5 of their last 8 PL matches
Southampton have only lost 1 of their last 8 away PL matches
Saints have kept 1 clean sheet in their last 7 away PL matches
This looks like the ideal match for Man Utd to get back to winning ways considering Southampton’s multitude of injury problems in defence and in midfield. A home win to zero could be a good call in this one.