Southampton play hosts to Manchester United on Saturday evening, where fans will be crying out to avenge the loss suffered in their thrilling encounter with Fulham last week.
United have had a very up and down week, as a frustrating 0-0 draw to Crystal Palace in their last Premier League endeavour was overshadowed by their 1-0 triumph in the Champions League against Swiss side Young Boys. Marouane Fellaini was the unlikely hero on Tuesday night, as his last minute winner secured the Red Devils a place in the last 16, giving something for supporters to smile about given their underwhelming form in the league this season.
They currently sit in 7th place on 21 points, meaning that they are currently closer bottom of the table Fulham on points (8) than they are to top of the league Manchester City (35). Jose Mourinho is very much under the cosh at the helm at the moment, and patience is running thin from followers of the Portuguese’s outfit as they have fallen too far behind the top 4.
Another man who is fighting to keep his job goes by the name of Mark Hughes. A former United player himself, the Saints boss has also had a poor season by the club’s standards, placed 18th in the relegation zone after their 3-2 defeat to Fulham, coupled with Huddersfield’s shock 2-0 win against Wolves, saw them slip into the danger zone.
Southampton also played in midweek, but they were served more disappointment. A goalless draw to Leicester City in the Carabao Cup meant the game went to penalties, where the Foxes prevailed 6-5, giving those involved with the club a reason to celebrate after their difficult period of grief following the death of their owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha last month.
Results need to come fast for Hughes’ men, and if they don’t secure 3 points soon on a more regular basis, the second sacking of the campaign, after Slavisa Jokanovic’s dismissa,l is more than likely to be imminent.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United have won only four of their 10 PL matches against Southampton, having beaten them in nine of the last 10 under the Scot. If United fall behind against the Saints they can be confident of rallying to win, having done so eight times against them in the Premier League, a joint record.
When these 2 last met, a 0-0 stalemate was played out; a frustrating affair where Southampton saw themselves in the same precarious position in the table they are this season.
Hughes has confirmed that he will be without Danny Ings for the tie. The on-loan Liverpool forward missed the trips to Fulham and Leicester City with a hamstring issue.
The former Stoke manager says there is extra care being taken in order to make sure he is fit for a packed festive fixture schedule.
“We’re still missing Danny unfortunately, who hasn’t been on the grass yet. We’d hoped to get him back at some point this week but it hasn’t been possible.
“He had a slight setback, nothing too great, and he wasn’t quite ready so we’ve given him a little bit more time.
“We’re hopeful that for the games next week he will have been out on the grass and he’ll become an option again. We’ve been a little bit careful with him if we’re honest and hopefully that extra time will allow him to come back fit and sound for the games right through to the new year.
“Ryan Bertrand is struggling a little bit as he’s got an issue with his back that has flared up again. We’ve managed it in the past but it’s giving him a bit of anxiety at the moment so he hasn’t trained for a number of days.
“We’re hopeful we can get him out training tomorrow but he’s a little bit of a doubt. If he misses this game then we hope we’ll have him available for Wednesday.”
Sam Gallagher and Shane Long both remain injured.
For United meanwhile, Victor Lindelof faces around a month on the sidelines after picking up a thigh injury against Crystal Palace, although Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo are back in training following lay-offs. Luke Shaw will return to domestic action after serving a one-game ban last weekend.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Targett; Hojbjerg, Lemina; Gabbiadini, Armstrong, Redmond; Austin
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Jones, Shaw; Fred, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Martial
Prediction – Southampton 0-2 Manchester United
Having pulled off victories over Juventus and an impressive Bournemouth side, as well as holding Chelsea to a draw in recent away games, even an under par United should be widely tipped to come out on top against struggling Southampton.