After a weekend of FA Cup action that saw Manchester United claim victory against Fulham, the Premier League is back. Wednesday sees the Reds welcome back Southampton for the first time in a while, with it being almost eight years since the pair clashed at Old Trafford.
After a tense and thrilling meeting earlier in the season, many are expecting a few more fireworks with both teams needing a result. United look to extend their eleven game unbeaten streak in this one and to continue their good form, but are up against a side eager to impress their new manager.
Manchester United look in pretty good shape. Never in Premier League history has the team had more points at this stage of the season than they do now. A league record of ten wins and one loss at home this season speaks volumes as the team have impressed recently, with Fergie’s side even seeming to have shaken their habit of going behind early on in games.
Another reason for the Premier League leaders success is thanks to their remarkable strike-force. Rooney has now scored seven in his last eight games, and Chicharito bagging five in five. Then of course there’s Robin van Persie, netting ten goals in his last ten Premier League appearances. RVP’s form has been simply astounding. The Reds win against the Saints back in September is a prime example, with the Dutchman rescuing Sir Alex’s side, who were 2-0 down, with an impressive hat-trick including a 90th minute winner.
It seems likely that Ferdinand, Vidic and van Persie will return after being rested over the weekend. Jones could also appear in a more central midfield position, perhaps alongside Carrick after the manager expressed delight in the players’ versatility. Jones’ midfield display in United’s meeting with Tottenham caught Fergie’s eye, with the Scotsman labelling him as “absolutely brilliant”.
Missing for the reds will be Darren Fletcher who is out for the season with a Chronic Bowel Condition. Young (knee injury) and Evans (hamstring) are out, with both expected to return within the next week.
The Saints arrive at the Theatre of Dreams with many positives, as the side have only lost once in their last seven games. The sacking of Nigel Adkins came as a shock for many. He was replaced by Argentinean Mauricio Pochettino. He is most noted for his career with the Catalan side RCD Espanol, being an undisputed starter for over five seasons and then the teams manager for three seasons.
This one will be Pochettino’s first away fixture in his new role, a tough test for any manager. But so far his upbeat attitude and positive words are just what the Saints need going into such a big game. Southampton are now four points above the relegation zone and have players more than capable of making an impact in tomorrow’s game.
There is no doubt that Rickie Lambert will start for the Saints, with only four players finding the net more times in the Premier League this season than the 30 year-old. Lambert is known for having a keen eye for goal, being good both in the air and from range. It’s likely that Gaston Ramirez will feature too, a real playmaker who arrived at St. Mary’s last August.
The Saints are expecting to welcome back Adam Lallana who was out with a knee injury, although it will be a rush to get him back to match fitness. The side are also without Jose Fonte (knee) and Guly do Prado who is unavailable until February 9th with a knee injury. This means that there is a possibility of Norwegian international Vegard Forren making his debut for the side after completing a move from Molde.
In charge of the game will be Lee Mason who reached the Premier League list of ‘Select Group Referees’ in 2006. The 41 year-old from Bolton has officiated just one game involving the Reds this season, the 5-4 defeat to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup.
- Manchester United have won their last seven matches against Southampton in all competitions since a 1-0 away defeat in August 2003 when James Beattie scored the only goal.
- Southampton have not won their last 17 league visits to Old Trafford. Their last victory came in January 1988.
- The Reds are unbeaten in their last 32 Premier League home matches against promoted clubs, stretching back over 11 years, since a 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers in October 2001.
- Ryan Giggs is set to make his 650th English league appearance for Manchester United.
- Robin van Persie has scored in the club’s last five Premier League matches. The last United player to score in six Premier League matches in a row was Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2006.
Enjoy the game!
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