Manchester United vs Southampton: Things to look out for
The players in action during their 1-1 draw in August (Manchester United via Getty Images)

Manchester United host Southampton in their return to Premier League action following a disappointing draw to BurnleySean Dyche's men expertly thwarted United in the second half, and rode their luck well, the Red Devils seeing two goals disallowed. Away side Southampton come into proceedings on the back of an excellent 3-2 comeback victory against Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United's recent record against Southampton is a good one. The previous game at Old Trafford ending in a famous 9-0 destruction of the Saints. In a match that saw the visitors reduced to nine men, youngster Alex Jankewitz given his marching orders inside the first minute and centre-back Jan Bednarek sent off late on. Notably, the result is the joint-biggest win in Premier League history, level with Leicester's 9-0 defeat of the same opponent a year previously.

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United are unbeaten in their last 12 matches against their upcoming opponents, winning six and sharing the spoils on the other six occasions.

It has been an underwhelming season so far for the Red Devils, seeing them sat sixth in the Premier League table after 23 games. The superstar signings of Cristiano RonaldoRaphael Varane and Jadon Sancho have done very little to inspire any kind of good form. A win on Saturday will, however, see the hosts climb back into the top four.

Below is everything you will need to know heading into the contest.

Southampton's talismanic captain James Ward-Prowse has been in excellent form this season. The Englishman has notched six goals and registered four assists from central midfield. The middle of the park has been a key area for Rangnick, specifically because of his pressing style. However, the area has seen constant change under the German's tutelage.

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Recently, returning Frenchman Paul Pogba has played alongside Portuguese maestro Bruno Fernandes, with Scott McTominay in behind them. This has allowed United to create a whole load of chances, but may see them struggle defensively when it comes to containing Ward-Prowse.

One key thing United must avoid is giving away unnecessary free-kicks. Ward-Prowse is a world-renowned set-piece specialist, and as such the Red Devils must be careful in and around their area.  

Ralph Hassenhutl often lines his side up in a typical 4-4-2 with Oriel Romeu partnering Ward-Prowse in the centre of midfield. If the Austrian elects to play this way against United, a midfield three from the hosts should comfortably overrun the Saints. In an ideal world for Rangnick, the German would be able to select Fred to man-mark Ward-Prowse. However, the Brazilian is unavailable due to illness.

Both sides should be able to field strong sides, with the hosts missing Alex Telles who is also ill, and Mason Greenwood. The visitors are missing goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and defender Lyanco, both have muscle injuries. However, the Saints may have Nathan Tella available for selection following his return from a groin injury.

  • How can United aid their woes in front of goal?

Poor finishing has been a running theme throughout United's previous couple of games. During their FA Cup clash with Championship side Middlesbrough, the Red Devils missed seven big chances. This theme continued in their disappointing 1-1 draw with Burnley as they had two goals disallowed in the first-half.

Superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo is on some of the worst form of his career. The Portuguese great hasn't  scored in 2022. With United becoming so reliant on his goals at key points this season, when he isn't performing the side struggle to win games. 

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It is unfair to pin this all on the 37-year old veteran,  the attacking players around him are also floundering. Big money signing Jadon Sancho is finally starting to find his feet, putting in an excellent performance against Burnley. But, the Englishman has only scored two Premier League goals this term, a number you'd expect to much higher for a man of his calibre. 

Rangnick needs to find a way to access the best out of his wide players Marcus Rashford and Sancho. If either of these can step up in Ronaldo's struggles, then the goal-scoring burden can be eased for the striker. 

The return from injury for Paul Pogba will also help the side, the Frenchman has played brilliantly in his two games so far. His creative power from midfield can aid in setting up the forwards, but he has proven against Burnley that he is a useful weapon inside the box.

  • Predicted lineups

Manchester United: De Gea (GK); Dalot, Varane, Maguire (C), Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Sancho, Ronaldo.

Southampton: Forster (GK); Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse (C), Romeu, Elyounoussi, Adams, Broja 

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