After the madness of the closing of the transfer window dies down we’re back down to the real business – football! Sir Alex Ferguson takes United to Southampton to take charge of his 1000th league game in which Ryan Giggs could make his 600th league appearance and Robin van Persie is a hat-trick short of 100 league goals. Milestones aplenty but all United fans will be concerned about is ratching up another three points.
Whilst recent history down south is pretty favourable not many United fans can forget the grey kit’s 1996 3-1 loss, the following year’s 6-3 humiliation. Both of these results were followed by a 1-0 defeat in 1998. 1999, along with a treble, brought with it Taibi’s long studs! This, lest us forget, is Southampton vs Manchester United. A game in which, seemingly, anything can happen.
David de Gea is fresh from a great start to the season (Vidic mix-up aside) and is nailed on to retain the number spot and ensure that Anders Lindegaard nearly reaches his brain whilst picking his nose. In front of the young Spaniard United fans will be delighted to hear that Michael Carrick should be freed from his poor-at-best impersonation of a central defender as Jonny Evans appears to have returned to full fitness. Vidic and Evans at the heart of the defence should be enough to hold out a Southampton attack recenlty improved by the acquisistion of Emmaniel Mayuka. They should be complimented on the flanks by Evra and last week’s goal scorer Rafael.
With Carrick being freed from the defence he may step forward into the middle of the park but will face competition from an impressive looking Anderson (I know!) and Cleverley. Scholes and Giggs will be knocking on the door also. We should fully expect to see Kagawa continue his blistering start in a United shirt playing just off the front man in a 4-2-3-1. On the wings I would expect and hope to see Nani and Valencia offer attacking threats.
With Rooney out injured but, according to nearly every statement coming out of Old Trafford this week, still in the long term plans for the club we should fully expect Ferguson to give Van Persie a chance to add to his United goal record after getting his name on the scoresheet last week.
– United have won on three of their four previous trips to St. Mary’s.
– Robin Van Persie is three goals away from 100 league goals.
– Ryan Giggs, if selected, will make his 600th Premier League appearance – a new record.
– Billy Sharp, again if selected, will make his 250th start.
– United are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League clashes with newly promoted teams.
– They have, however, lost three of their last four league away games 1-0.
– Southampton 5/1 Draw 11/4 Manchester United 6/10
– Southamton to win 6-3 500/1
My (tongue in cheek, bet a quid and win big) Tip
– Van Persie to score first and United to win 4-1 55/1
Whilst the end of the previous century may still give some of us nightmares I think we’d all be incredibly upset, shocked and disappointed if we came away with nothing less than a win here. This is not to incite any Southampton fans and I am fully aware that they are capable of pulling off an upset but these fixtures, quite simply, are must-win games if United are to have any hopes of winning the title. This Southampton side is a side with a nucleus of players who were recently playing League One football. The attacking prowess of Kagawa, RVP and Nani should prove to much for them at one end of the pitch whilst a pairing of two natural centre backs should be enough to protect an impressive de Gea in defence.
I think it will be a tough away game but I’m glad Jonny Evans is back now. Hopefully him and Vidic can start building a solid patnership. Evans came on a lot last season and I want that to continue. Carrick will help us by going back into midfield alongside Cleverley I would expect. I also expect to see Welbeck starting out on the left side in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Nani was not in the squad last week so I don’t see him starting today.
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