Stuart Armstrong’s Southampton career has taken a little while to spark into life but his two-goal performance in the Saints’ last Premier League match against Fulham has belatedly given it a kickstart.
The Scotland international is perhaps the only in-form creative player available to Mark Hughes as he looks to spring a surprise on another under fire manager – Jose Mourinho – when his side host his former club Manchester United tomorrow evening.
Southampton will not expect to dominate the ball but this current United side generally hands its opponents ample opportunities to score and one of the main liabilities this season has been Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian is a favourite of Mourinho but he has been woeful this term since returning from post-World Cup surgery in the summer.
He looks ponderous and is often out of position when this increasingly fragile Red Devils defence needs protection against rampaging midfield runners.
That direct tussle between he and Armstrong only looks like having one winner; it’s just a case of whether Southampton can get the ball to their playmaker often enough to take full advantage.
If they do, the Saints could throw their manager an unlikely lifeline and plunge their visitors into an even deeper malaise.