Manchester United vs Southampton Preview

Taking all the disappointment to the chin amidst this busy schedule, we now welcome Southampton Football Club to Old Trafford for the last game of the calendar year 2017. On the back of yet another frustrating point against Burnley, we look to the game against Southampton for some solace.

Southampton are in a horrible run of form and haven't won a game since the 26th of November. This dry patch of their's also includes a 5-2 drubbing at Wembley last week and a 4-1 loss to Leicester at St. Mary's. But make no mistake, I assure you that Shane Long will turn into prime Ronaldinho against us. 

I heard a Southampton fan say this week, who was equating correctly predicting the Saints' lineup to winning the lottery. They have quality in their team but they just don't seem to click. They have one of the best shot stoppers in England, in Fraser Forster. He is absolutely brilliant, however he last kept a clean sheet two months ago.

Their defence will be a little shaky because Virgil Van Dijk has left them for Liverpool. As we saw in the Spurs game, they lack a lot of concentration and have moments where their defence can easily be penetrated through. Even in central midfield, we have the likes of Oriol Romeu and Steven Davies who are great individual players but do not flourish in the given system.

Up front is where they are most vulnerable. Pellegrino likes to rotate between Shane Long, Charlie Austin(injured and suspended) and Manolo Gabbiadini, all three of whom have been utterly dire this season. The Manolo of last season has been transformed into a striker who wouldn't even finish his dinner. Their strikers do not have it in them to create goals or even dribble past our centre backs. In order to overcome this, I expect them to play a high press and force us into making mistakes, which we have been doing in numbers. Also, watch out for the set pieces boys!
Image result for manchester united vs southampton
This is an unpopular opinion among our volatile fan base but I believe that this is just a rough patch and we need to hold our head high through the storm. The fact that City are running away with the League seems to have gotten to our heads. No excuses, shake it off and concentrate on your game. 

I expect us to go with a four man defence like last time because of our defensive capabilities and options. This will enable us one fully functional, overlapping wing-back and a solid three man central midfield partnership. Our defence is not an issue at the moment as we have been conceding from follies during set pieces and not open play. That issue needs serious addressing. For me, Luke Shaw did splendid against Burnley both defensively and offensively. He should be starting more regularly.

My holding midfield partnership remains the same because one has been our signing of the season and we clearly can not survive without the other. Our team crumbles without Pogba, which needs addressing in the winter transfer window. However, I have tweaked a few things in attacking midfield. 

In my opinion, it makes more sense to play in form players than wasteful ones. So, in comes Lingard in place of Rashford who needs to find his form again. Lingard has been amazing for us and needs to start as he pulled us out of the ditch that Burnley shoved us into. I would also bring in Mkhitaryan as a number 10 as now, with the busy schedule and weak Southampton team, seems the perfect time to bring him in. If he gets an assist or a goal, it will do wonders for his confidence. 
So my lineup would be: 

Predicted Lineup: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lingard; Lukaku

Predicted score: 4-0 (Mkhitaryan and Lukaku to score)

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