Southampton vs Man United – Preview, team news, key battles and prediction

by Sam Peoples

Manchester United travel south to face Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium on Monday and they travel in good heart after winning four games for the first time since December last year.

A hard fought victory against Stoke City last week will give Man United’s players a lot of confidence going into the game against Southampton, who still remain a strong defensive unit and have conceded only five goals at home this season. Southampton are very much into their tough run of fixtures in the festive period having already lost against Arsenal and Manchester City. Koeman will be looking for a response from his players.

Victory against Southampton will register a fifth successive win for Louis Van Gaal’s men and the players should be extra motivated going into this game for a few reasons. It presents a great opportunity to climb higher up the table into third and close the gap between Man United and City to just four points. Another reason being Man United welcome foes Liverpool at Old Trafford next week and the players would be keen to go into that game with a win.

Manchester United team news

Angel Di Maria will miss the game after picking up an injury early in the game against Hull but United welcome back Wayne Rooney who should be a key player in breaking down a tough Southampton defence. Rafael returned to training earlier this week and he too should be available along with Jonny Evans. Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw still remain on the sidelines although the Reds will be glad to see Jones return to training this week.

Southampton team news

Koeman will not be a happy man after the way his team put in a resilient performance against The Gunners but conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 after going down to ten men after Toby Alderweireld picked up an injury after the Saints having used all three substitutions already. Yoshida is likely to take his place in the starting XI.

Dominant midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has been ruled out and Jack Cork misses the game with injury too. Grazi Pelle should retain his place up front and will likely have Dusan Tadic and Shane Long supporting him.

Key Players

For United, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera. Their link-up play will be very important in breaking down a resilient Saints defence that has only shipped 10 goals all season and remain the strongest in the league. Their creativity in the middle of the park will also be extremely important in unlocking the defence and their service to the Van Persie and Rooney should count for a lot if United want to take three points.

For Southampton, Grazi Pelle. Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling might have a tough night if Pelle decides to show up and his team are in desperate need for their star striker to get on the score sheet again. Van Gaal likened Pelle to Van Persie in that he carries significant goal-scoring threat. The United back line will have to be strong and communicate very well to keep the likes of Pelle and Tadic quiet.

Prediction

Man United should be looking to get all three points against a Saints side low on confidence after two successive defeats. Although Koeman will be looking for a strong response from his team, United’s side should be too much for a Southampton side struggling with injuries and the likes of Schneiderlin and Alderweireld missing out.

Southampton 0-2 Manchester United

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