Manchester United will be relying on their good luck against Southampton when Ronald Koeman’s side travel to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.
Despite going on a really good run before Christmas, United have failed to reach those heights in the weeks since and while they remain in third place in the league table, they are only one point ahead of fourth-placed Southampton. Robin van Persie enjoys a good record against them when it comes to scoring goals and he will be hoping to add more to his tally in order to win three points for the home side.
Southampton endured a difficult period in the run up to Christmas but have looked more like the team we saw earlier in the season during the festive fixtures. Despite losing to United at home, Koeman’s team will be buoyed by the fact that they outplayed their top four rivals in that game and will hope to emulate that performance on Sunday.
The good news for United fans is that several of the injured players should be available for selection this weekend. Luke Shaw is the most likely to return to the team while Marouane Fellaini, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Ashley Young could also make their collective return from injury. Antonio Valencia and Rafael are still out of action for the foreseeable future.
Nathaniel Clyne could be in line for a return to the Southampton squad this weekend, however Sadio Mane and Jack Cork are still injured for another week at least. The return of Jay Rodriguez is getting closer with the club estimating he will be available at the end of January.
- Van Persie has scored six goals in just five appearances against Southampton.
- United are currently on a run of 10 games without defeat.
- However, they have drawn in three of their last four games in the league.
- Southampton managed 15 shots against United in their last meeting compared to the visitors’ three.
- However, the Saints lost that game 2-1.
- Of all Premier League games to have been played at least 10 times since January 1st 2000, no current premiership fixture has produced more goals, with an average of 3.59 per game (WhoScored.com).
United are certainly playing better than they were last season and while a lot of that will be down to the management of Louis van Gaal, the leadership of Rooney has also had a part to play. In 16 league appearances so far this season, Rooney has scored eight goals. He has attempted 26 shots at goal and half of these have been on target. According to Squawka.com, he has created 21 chances for his team mates and made four assists in the process. His passing has been very good as well, achieving an 85% passing accuracy with 712 successful passes. We often think of Rooney being a strong, powerful player but this doesn’t translate to how successful he is when it comes to duels. He has only won 42% of them overall and this includes a 33% success rate in tackling, and a 38% success rate with headed duels. However, that does not alter the fact that Rooney is still one of, if not the biggest threats that United possess and Southampton will have to adequately prepare for dealing with him.
Like Rooney, Tadic has been an integral part of how Southampton have played this season. He has made 18 appearances in the league for the Saints and has scored two goals from midfield. According to Squawka.com, he has attempted 26 shots at goal and 14 of these have been on target. He has created an impressive 53 chances for his team mates with seven of these resulting in assists. While Tadic has not attempted nearly as many passes as his counterpart at United, he still has a passing accuracy of 79% from 470 successful attempts. He has won even less of his overall duels than Rooney, winning just 38% of them. However, he has been more successful where tackling is concerned, winning 42% of all those he has attempted. Tadic has been impressive for Southampton this season and it will be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure of the Old Trafford crowd singling him out for attention.
United have a very good record against Southampton but I do not think it will be easy for them. They were lucky to pick up the victory against the Saints last time and they have played even less convincingly since then. Southampton will be desperate to win and move above their top four rivals, however I think the game will end in a 1-1 draw.