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Manchester United vs Southampton: Match preview and predicted line-ups

Manchester United vs Southampton: Match preview and predicted line-ups

The first Friday night Premier League fixture of the season will take place at Old Trafford, as Manchester United host Southampton. Much attention will be on the home dug out as Jose Mourinho takes charge of his first competitive game in Manchester, however this fixture also represents Claude Puel’s first away trip in English football – away to Manchester United, a real baptism of fire for the Frenchman. Southampton have actually won their last two games at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ 0-1 and drew 1-1 before that, with their last loss at Old Trafford coming in January 2013. The Red Devils will be looking to end their Saints hoodoo in front of the cameras and a packed out stadium under the Friday night lights.

Recent form                                                                                     

At this embryonic stage of the season, both sides just have the one Premier League fixture under their belts. United won 1-3 away at Bournemouth with goals from Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and new boy Zlatan Ibrahimovic. No mean feat, considering under former boss LvG the Reds lost 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium. Jose Mourinho was quoted as being “very happy” with this result, and why wouldn’t he be? Winning relatively comfortably by two goals away from home against any opposition in the Premier League is very commendable.

Southampton got their season underway with a rather forgettable 1-1 home draw with Watford. It really was a game of two halves for the Saints, who had nothing to cheer for the best part of an hour before an equaliser from summer signing Nathan Redmond sparked Puel’s men into a bit of life. Southampton will look to the positives from the last 20 minutes against Watford to take into the clash with Manchester United.

 

Predicted line ups

At the time of writing, it has been reported that United are interested in Southampton defender Jose Fonte, with possibly Marcus Rojo going the other way. However such a deal has not happened yet, and therefore will not affect our predicted line-up.

Paul Pogba is available to make his (second) Manchester United debut, and expect this to happen in front of the TV cameras. Chris Smalling also returns from suspension and could well return to the heart of the United defence. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, signed from Borussia Dortmund this summer, has so far only appeared off of the bench for United, and this is likely to continue.

Southampton are unlikely to make wholesale changes from the side that drew versus Watford. Puel may choose to start Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who impressed from the bench on Saturday, as well as Austin who replaced Shane Long up top. Yoshida may retain his place in the centre of defence amidst speculation over Fonte’s future.

United predicted starting XI                                                  Saints predicted starting XI

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Suspensions/injuries

There are no fresh injury concerns for Manchester United, and with Pogba now back from his suspension, Jose has a full strength squad to select from.

Ryan Bertrand sat out of Southampton’s tie with Watford and Friday may come too soon for the English full back.

Our prediction

If Manchester United’s attacking players metaphorically “turn up” then it really is hard to look past anything but a home win. With the likes of Pogba, Rooney, Martial and Ibrahimovic to name just a few, you’d be hard pushed to see how Fraser Forster could keep a clean sheet in the Southampton goal. The Saints could cause the United defence (including former academy golden boy Luke Shaw) some problems themselves, providing Puel can get his attacking formation right – something he grappled with at times versus Watford. Southampton could get a draw or even a win out of this encounter, but would likely have to play out of their skin to do so. Therefore our prediction is consecutive 3-1 win for Manchester United.

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