Manchester United will look to bounce back from their disappointing showing last weekend as the Red Devils travel to St Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides only sit one point apart in the standings going into the contest, but United will still be seen as heavy favorites, even on the road.
However, Southampton have pulled off plenty of famous results over the course of their Premier League lifetime, and will aim to shock the system once again.
United had their worst performance of the season so far last weekend, which was especially odd since they were up against their weakest opposition.
Crystal Palace went to Old Trafford off the back of a loss to newly promoted Sheffield United, so spirits were low. Meanwhile, the Red Devils had smashed rivals Chelsea to start the campaign, and gotten a solid result away to Wolves the week after.
With the added tidbit that the Eagles had never beaten United going into the contest, there was little reason to believe that there would be an upset on the cards.
However, it would be Palace who took the lead at the half hour mark. Jordan Ayew was played through after a superb flick on header by Jeffrey Schlupp, and the striker made no mistake with the finish, slotting past David De Gea with relative ease.
United pushed for an equalizer, and were gifted a golden opportunity when the referee pointed to the spot after Scott McTominay was taken out in the box. However, Marcus Rashford smashed the resulting penalty off the post.
The Red Devils would eventually grab the goal they were after with minutes to go in the contest. Daniel James picked up the ball on the edge of the area, settled himself, and curled a shot into the top right corner. It was game on, and United were instantly on the search for the winner.
A winning goal would come in stoppage time, but United would be the ones conceding it, as Patrick van Aarnholt smashed home a loose ball in the penalty area. Palace managed to hold on, and United were rightly booed off the field by the Old Trafford faithful.
The Saints, on the other hand, picked up a much needed victory in their fight for Premier League survival.
Away to Brighton and Hove Albion, Southampton caught a huge break when the hosts were reduced to ten men at the half hour mark after Florin Andone was sent off for a horror tackle. It was a deserved red card, and the Saints made the most of their man advantage.
Summer signing Moussa Djenepo scored his first goal for the club at the start of the second half, and Nathan Redmond added a second in the last few minutes to put the game to bed. The three points were vital for Southampton, who need to avoid digging themselves into a hole early on if they want any chance of staying up this season.
Last time out
These sides last faced off in early March in one of the best games of the 2018/19 season. Both teams were riding high under new manages, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralph Hasenhüttl were in the process of turning their respective seasons around.
It was a game full of beautiful goals, which started when Southampton right back Yan Valery unleashed a cannon from distance, which flew into the back of the net.
Andreas Pereira would respond in kind, as his shot on the counter attack curled into the top corner on the counter attack.
Romelu Lukaku would give United the lead shorty after in some fashion, turning onto his weaker right foot before slotting home with composure.
The Saints were not yet finished, as James Ward-Prowse equalized following a perfectly executed free kick.
However, Lukaku would not be stopped, as he grabbed his brace to secure a victory for United on the day. It was close to a carbon copy of his opening goal, drilling a shot into the bottom corner with his weaker right foot.
That would be the last action of a truly thrilling encounter that sent the fans at Old Trafford home incredibly happy.
Losing against Palace was bad enough, but United were also dealt two major injury blows during the game.
It started with Luke Shaw, who was subbed out at the half hour mark after picking up a hamstring injury. Then, Anthony Martial was left limping at the end of the contest, and it seems both will be unavailable for selection on Saturday.
The Red Devils will also be without Diogo Dalot, who is a few weeks away from being fully recovered, and the pairing of Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who are still dealing with long term injuries.
Southampton have had better luck with injuries so far this season, as only Ryan Bertrand will be forced to watch from the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Southampton: Gunn, Valery, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Danso, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Ings, Adams
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young, Andreas, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford, James
What to watch for
Who comes in for Martial?
As mentioned prior, Anthony Martial will be out injured for the game against Southampton. The Frenchman has made a quality start to the campaign, and is the joint top scorer for United so far with two goals in three games.
Now, the pressure will be on Solskjaer to adequately replace him in the team. It’s very likely Marcus Rashford will slot in at striker, but the rest of the attacking line is up for grabs.
Daniel James is who deserves a start the most, as the Welshman has been electric to start his United career, scoring two in his first three Premier League games.
The same cannot be said for Jesse Lingard, who hasn’t quite hit the ground running. Without a goal or assist in 2019, fans are starting to wonder why he keeps playing significant minutes. However, Solskjaer is a fan of his, which means Lingard could still find his way into the team.
There are some more interesting candidates available to the Norwegian manager.
Juan Mata has all the technical ability in the world, and he could be critical in breaking down a defensive Southampton side. Solskjaer could also turn to the youth, as Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood, and Tahith Chong are desperately seeking a chance to prove themselves at the highest level.
The tide might be beginning to turn against Solskjaer, who will need to get his starting lineup right on Saturday afternoon to ensure United don’t fall to weaker opposition once again.