Manchester United vs. Southampton was last played in mid-October 2013, early in last season and when Red Devils fans still had high hopes for then-manager David Moyes, despite the club having endured their worst start to a Premier League season.
Both games against Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton last season ended in 1-1 draws; this one in dramatic fashion for the home side, when an Adam Lallana equaliser just before full-time devastated the Old Trafford faithful, who looked on course to move five points behind league leaders Arsenal with a win following a linkup between Adnan Januzaj and Robin van Persie putting United in front midway through the first half.
Wayne Rooney completed the attacking trio and their movement and understanding threatened Southampton all afternoon, although Saints boss Pochettino afterwards felt that his side’s dominance of possession warranted at least a point.
To see how MUFC fans may be thinking about this game, we looked at the Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football data from this fixture last season, to see what players were picked for the lineup by the average fan last year.
Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football is a game similar to “Football Manager”, but applied to live football, where you manage your favourite Club and pick lineups, bench, formations and substitutions, all in real-time. When fans play the game, the Beat Your Manager team can measure the popularity of different players, by looking at how frequently they are selected for the starting lineup, substitutes bench or not selected at all.
The app ran for the 2013/4 EPL season and is currently inactive while the developers are creating a redeveloped version – we’ll keep you posted on when it’s going to re-launch.
Formation: 4-4-2 again the most popular choice for United fans
Over half (55 per cent) of United fans went for a 4-4-2 formation for this game last season, with the next-most popular formation an attacking 4-3-3, selected by 19 per cent of fans.
Goalkeeper: de Gea the obvious choice in goal
No surprises in goal with an almost-perfect 99 per cent of MUFC fans selecting David de Gea for the lineup, making him United’s most popular player for this match. Moyes agreed with the fans and de Gea lined up between the posts.
Defence: Two switches at the back between fans and Moyes
United fans had two clear fan favourites in defence for this game, with Patrice Evra the club’s most popular defender and 3rd-most most popular player on 90 per cent, with Nemanja Vidić just behind, on an 88 per cent rating for the lineup.
After Vidić, approval ratings for United’s defence dropped a bit, with Rafael (71 per cent) just edging out Rio Ferdinand (67 per cent) for the fourth spot.
Despite being match-fit, Moyes opted not to go with fan-favourites Evra and Vidić, instead fielding Jonny Evans (41 per cent fan rating) and Phil Jones (24 per cent fan rating) in central defence, although he agreed with fans on including Rafael and Ferdinand.
Midfield: A single change in midfield between fans and Manager
With Juan Mata yet to join United and Darren Fletcher out injured, United fans had a clear favourite in midfield in Michael Carrick, his 86 per cent rating approval from fans making him the club’s most popular midfielder and 5th-most popular player.
New signing Marouane Fellaini was substantially behind Carrick, but still slightly ahead of his colleagues on 62 per cent, with Tom Cleverley (52 per cent) and Nani (48 per cent) scraping into the final four, with only average ratings from fans. In fact, Shinji Kagawa got the same mediocre score, but Nani gets into the lineup ahead of his team-mate due to his (slightly) higher bench ratings.
Mayes made only a single change to the fans’ midfield lineup, fielding Januzaj (27 per cent fan rating) instead of Cleverley; the young Belgian rewarding his manager with an assist to van Persie early in the first half.
Forwards: Perfect harmony between fans and manager
Wayne Rooney (98 per cent) and Robin van Persie (75 per cent) were the clear favourites upfront for MUFC fans for this game; Rooney’s score making him the club’s 2nd -most popular player, while United’s 3rd-most popular forward, Danny Welbeck, was scored way behind the front two, by only 35 per cent of fans.
Moyes agreed with the fans upfront, opting for Rooney-v=Van Persie axis, the Dutchman rewarding his manager with a goal that was the game’s sole score until the dying the minutes.
MUFC Fan-selected lineup, bench, not selected ratings Home to Southampton 2013/4 EPL Season: