In the Premier League’s first Friday night fixture of this 2016/17 season, we will see Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United facing former Nice boss Claude Puel’s Southampton at Old Trafford.
Mourinho’s United won 3-1 convincingly against Bournemouth in their opening Premier League fixture while Southampton had to satisfy with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Watford.
Southampton’s star Centre-half Jose Fonte has been linked with Manchester United and the former Nice boss has commented on the occasion to clear the air: “There’s definitely no problem between the club, or me, and Jose. Hearing rumours about a move to Red Devils just before clashing with them is just strange,”
Both the sides have won 2 each among the last 6 matches they have faced each other, but the last time it was Southampton who triumphed with a late winner from Charlie Austin.
The 20-time English champions will play Southampton at Old Trafford this Friday night, which will be Mourinho’s official debut as a Man United manager at the Theatre of Dreams! To be honest, there wasn’t so much excitement amongst the United fans last season, the reason was Louis Van Gaal’s way of managing the team and his tactics, which didn’t allow beautiful football. 2015/16 season was not a failure, but for the fans, it was dull and uninteresting.
Back to back two victories and the Community Shield trophy have been like “a shot in the arm” for the Red Devils boss and also for the players. United defeated the defending Premier League champions 2-1 to win the season’s first silverware and then a 3-1 win over Bournemouth has ignited up the expectations of the fans.
Man United star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at Old Trafford for free and already has scored two goals in his two appearances. The Portuguese coach targeted four key players and have been able to get all of them.
When Paul Pogba left Manchester United he was only 19 and only had seven senior team appearances for Man United, but he is back after 4 years and he would certainly want to make this return a memorable one! However, it looks like Pogba will have to settle for a cameo off the bench.
On the other hand Chris Smalling is back from injury and is most likely to start in place of Daley Blind or Eric Bailly.
Juan Mata will face competition from new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the start, but considering he scored the opener against Bournemouth, looks like Mata can also be preferred.
Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions): WW
The Saints faced Watford in their opening fixture of the Premier League under former Nice boss Claude Puel, the successor of Ronald Koeman, which ended with a 1-1 draw. Though we can draw some positives from the game – seeing new boy Nathan Redmond, who recently joined from Norwich City for about 10million Euros, securing 1 point for the club by scoring his debut goal.
The exit of a brilliant manager like Ronald Koeman is a big setback for the club as well as the fans. And now during the summer transfer window, losing out on star players like Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, and Victor Wanyama is yet another hurdle to overcome for the former Nice boss Claude Puel.
Amongst the new signings Puel has brought in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich, and also players like Redmond, Jeremy Pied and Alex McCarthy. Currently, they are trying their best to keep Jose Fonte at the St Mary’s, while Arsenal and United heavily interested in the Portuguese centre-half.
Only time will show us how Southampton shape up, after going through so many changes in the squad as well as in the managerial area.
In Southampton’s injury list – Ryan Bertrand, who will be replaced by Matt Targett in the left back position, while Jose Fonte is fit to replace Maya Yoshida at the centre-back position! Cedric Soares will face competition from new boy Pied for the Right-back place.
Recent form: D
Man United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Shaw; Fellaini, Herrera; Martial, Rooney, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Pied, Fonte, Van Dijk, Targett; Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Davis; Tadic, Redmond, Long
Head to Head
This Friday night Manchester United will face Southampton for the 119th time in all competitions. Among those 118 matches, Man United have won 61 and Southampton have won 28, while in the rest of the matches the scores remained level.
However, in the last two meetings between the clubs at Old Trafford the Saints have claimed the victory by winning with a 1-0 margin both the time.
Last time Southampton lost to Man United at Old Trafford was in January 2013, however, they have defeated the Saints in both of their last two visits to the St Mary’s.
SkyBet betting odds are:
Manchester United: 1/2
Seeing the way Manchester United are playing under Jose and also their fierce attack, while, on the other hand, the struggling Southampton; it looks like it will be an easy win for Manchester United.
The score-line: Manchester United 2-0 Southampton.
image credits: 101GreatGoals