Manchester United travel to St. Mary’s Stadium as they take on Southampton in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho’s men come into the match on the back of an emphatic 4-1 victory over Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup, when goals from Rashford, Lingard and Martial sent them through to the Fourth Round in which they’ll face Swansea City away from home. Their last action in the league was a 4-0 demolition of Ronald Koeman’s Everton last Sunday. The win kept them on top of the league, level on points with their cross-city rivals Manchester City.
Southampton, on the other hand, lost out to Watford 2-0 in the league two weeks ago, but a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace, courtesy of a goal from Steven Davis, last weekend restored their confidence to some extent. They are now 9th in the league standings, having won two and drawn two of their five games in total.
In team news, United will still be without star midfielder Paul Pogba, who is still out for an unknown period according to Mourinho, but the boss has reiterated his thoughts that his loss won’t be too big and he has a number of players who’ll now have a chance to stake a claim in the first team. Ibrahimovic and Rojo, out with ACL and knee injuries respectively, are still on their way to return from injury, with the former aiming to return by November while the latter is expected to return in December. Players like De Gea, Valencia, Bailly and Matic, who were rested for the midweek game, are expected to return to the starting line-up, while players like Mkhitaryan and Fellaini could also start the match. Ashley Young could make a return at left-back, and Mourinho has a tough decision to make while choosing between Martial and Rashford to start at left-wing. Alternatively, the boss could spring a surprise by somehow including both of the in-form youngsters in the starting eleven, but that looks unlikely as Martial is expected to wreak havoc coming on from the bench in the latter stages.
Southampton fans, on the other hand, would be hoping of seeing star defender Virgil van Dijk make his first start in eight months. The Belgium international, who suffered a serious foot injury in January and then handed in a transfer request in the summer, made his first appearance as an 87th-minute substitute against Crystal Palace last weekend, and as per the manager, he could well play an important role against United. Pellegrino also stressed about his defensive tactics, stating that his team’s defence isn’t entirely about the back line only. Matt Targett is also doubtful due to an ankle problem, while Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is also in contention, having missed the victory over Crystal Palace to the birth of his daughter.
Southampton have been very strong and disciplined under Pellegrino, who has vowed to attack first in this encounter. However, I expect Mourinho’s men to maintain an impressive start to the season, even though a victory could be hard-fought. Mourinho has ample of quality players at his disposal, and even if the starting eleven cannot win the match, he has players like Martial, Lingard and Carrick who could turn the match upside in no time. I’ll put my money on a 2-1 victory for the away side today.