Manchester United return to Premier League action with a tricky clash against lowly Southampton at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.
Bruno Fernandes’ 65th-minute goal was enough to ensure victory for Erik ten Hag’s side in the reverse fixture in August, but the Red Devils have since grown into a more potent outfit.
After seeing their 11-match unbeaten run come to an abrupt end when they were handed their heaviest Premier League defeat by historical rivals Liverpool, United responded with an assured win over Real Betis in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 clash.
Marcus Rashford, who had drawn blanks in the previous two games, returned to the scoresheet in Thursday’s showdown before Antony, Bruno Fernandes, and Wout Weghorst completed the rout as United ran out 4-1 winners on the night.
Having established a commanding lead over Betis, United now have one foot in the quarter-final, and it would take a catastrophic collapse for Ten Hag’s side to lose the tie at this point.
The Red Devils will travel to the Estadio Benito Villamarin for the reverse fixture, which should be a formality. But first, they will have to take care of business at home when relegation-threatened Southampton visit the Theatre of Dreams.
Since their first-leg defeat to United, Southampton have switched managers twice, with former gaffer Nathan Jones getting the sack just three months into the job after picking up just one win in eight games.
Following a shocking 1-0 victory over Chelsea in his debut game as Saints boss, Ruben Selles did enough to convince the Southampton hierarchy to hand him the role at least until the end of the season.
Subsequent defeats to Leeds United and League Two side Grimsby Town did not bode well for the Spanish tactician, but Carlos Alcaraz’s first-half strike against Leicester City was enough to earn the Saints a 1-0 win in front of their own fans.
It was Selles’ second victory in four games and only Southampton’s second success on home turf this season, which could prove monumental in their quest to survive the relegation dogfight.
While Selles will be keen for his side to leave Old Trafford with a positive result, the odds are firmly stacked against them, having failed to win any of their last 14 meetings with Sunday’s opponents in all competitions (D7, L7).
United looked like a team that had put the Anfield aberration behind them against Betis, but now the onus is on them to avoid successive domestic defeats. They have not lost consecutive league games since May/August last year when they lost four in a row.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last six games against Southampton at Old Trafford. However, after drawing 1-1 in last season’s home meeting, they are due a win over the Saints, having alternated between a victory and a draw each time in that run.
United have won 36 points from losing positions in league games against Southampton, with no other side winning more against a single opponent – level with Liverpool, who have also won 36 against Newcastle.
United’s top goalscorer Rashford who has been on a rampage this season will be looking to smash another record, having scored in each of his last seven league games on home turf.
Only two United players have scored in more consecutive appearances at Old Trafford in the competition – Wayne Rooney (8 between December 2009-March 2010) and Cristiano Ronaldo (10 between March-November 2008).
Selles seems to be a breath of fresh air for a Southampton side that have endured an abysmal campaign.
The Saints have won two of their three league games under the Spaniard (L1), as many as they had in their previous 17 under Ralph Hasenhüttl and Nathan Jones (D2, L13).
Overcoming United in front of the Old Trafford faithful will prove a daunting task to the shaky Saints, but Southampton are the only team to have won more than half of their points in away games so far this season, with 12 of their 21 points coming on the road.
All six of Southampton’s league wins this season have been by a one-goal margin. They are the only team yet to win by more than one goal so far this term, and as it stands, it is their most victories in a single Premier League season without winning by 2+ goals.
Manchester United vs Southampton Potential Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Diogo Dalot; Casemiro, Fred; Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho; Wout Weghorst.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Gavin Bazunu; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Jan Bednarek, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Kyle Walker-Peters; James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia; Theo Walcott, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Kamaldeen Sulemana; Che Adams.
How to Watch?
Man United vs Southampton, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
Manchester United vs Southampton Prediction
Southampton are an unpredictable prospect under Selles’ tutelage, but United should have no problems making it two wins in a row.
Manchester United 2-0 Southampton
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