Southampton will welcome Manchester United to the south coast this weekend as they try to become to the first team to beat the early pacesetters of the division this season. Jose Mourinho’s men have only lost one of their last five matches against the Saints and they will be looking at this as a fixture that they must win if they are going to seriously challenge for the title. Interestingly, they haven’t lost at St Mary’s Stadium since 2003.
It is another period of transition for Southampton as they have a new manager in Mauricio Pellegrino. The Argentine came with a good reputation after an impressive spell with Alaves and needs time to adapt to the Premier League. There have been some encouraging signs, but the results haven’t been perfect and this match will give a good indication of where they are currently at.
United have had a period of transition of their own since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, but they are finally coming out on the other side and emerging as a serious contender once again. Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world and he is proving his worth at Old Trafford. He has put together a talented and physically imposing team. They will be favourites this weekend.
Despite a disappointing loss to Watford during their last home fixture, Southampton have taken a credible eight points from their opening five matches. They probably did enough to take more based on chances created, but it could have been worse.
Manchester United are level with their local rivals, Manchester City, at the top of the division on 13 points. The only match that they have dropped points in was against Stoke City, with the other four matches ending in victories. This is a similar test to the one against Stoke and they will be keen not to make the same mistakes.
Southampton may opt for an unchanged line-up after picking up a victory on the road last weekend. Manolo Gabbiadini and Virgil van Dijk will be the two most likely to come into the team if changes are made by Pellegrino.
Like the hosts, there is no reason for United to make a change after a great performance and result last weekend against Everton. The main doubt surrounds Ashley Young, but he did well in his last outing and did enough to earn another start.
Charlie Austin is the only injury doubt for the home side as he faces a late fitness test before the match on Saturday. The rest of the squad are fit and able to play a part against Manchester United.
Luke Shaw returned during the week and will be available to face his former club. Paul Pogba remains out of action, while Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are long-term injury concerns.
Score prediction: Southampton 0-2 Manchester United
This is a difficult fixture for Manchester United and it will provide a good early test of their title credentials. Southampton have been far from convincing and will be slightly disappointed to have taken only eight points from their first five matches. It is a good return, but they were given a nice fixture list to start the campaign. They have players that can cause the visitors problems. That said, United should have enough to take the three points for the second week in succession.