Prediction: Manchester United vs Southampton

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Verdict: Man United to Win and Both Teams to Score

Best Odds: 11/5

Bookmakers: William Hill

The late kick-off on Saturday sees Manchester United host Southampton at Old Trafford, and both sides will be looking for a positive result in the run up to the January transfer window. United have drawn their last two league games, and now need results to stay ahead of the likes of Chelsea, rather than to catch up with their City rivals. The Saints meanwhile are hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, but a win here would catapult them up what is a tight bottom half of the table.

Manchester United

Two weeks ago everyone was saying that in any other season Manchester United would likely be top of the table, and that the success of their City rivals was simply remarkable. The point about the Cityzens remains the same, but the Red Devils have seen their form fall off a cliff of late, and now they are more concerned with those behind them. Two draws against Leicester and Burnley in their last two Premier League games have seen United drop back from City, and they now sit just one point above third place Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho’s men started the season so well, but a number of injuries to key defenders seem to have derailed their season somewhat. With Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia all still out, this game looks like another opportunity for a lesser team to get one over on United. It is important to remember that they still have the third best defensive record in the league, and they could bounce back at any time, but the 15 point chasm between them and City also seems to have knocked some of the stuffing out of the United players.

Team News

Mourinho will be forced to deal with a whole host of injuries, specifically to his defenders. Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling are all out, while midfielders Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini are also out for the long term.

In better news Anthony Martial should feature after recovering from a knee injury.

Southampton

The Saints are one of a number of teams that are dangerously close to the relegation zone, and just two points separate Mauricio Pellegrino’s side from a disastrous season. It is incredibly tight at the bottom of the table, and a single win would do wonders for Southampton, who haven’t picked up three points in any of their last seven league fixtures. They haven’t had much trouble scoring recently, which was something that was hampering them earlier in the season, but the absence of in form striker Charlie Austin may put somewhat of a dent in their attack.

Southampton are also without their two starting fullbacks, and both Cedric and Bertrand offer as much going forward as they do defensively. To their credit the Saints did manage to net two goals against a stout Tottenham defence on Boxing Day, and it isn’t difficult to see them grabbing one against a depleted United back line. Shane Long will likely line up as the starting striker, and if there’s any time to end your goal scoring drought it’s at Old Trafford.

Team News

While the Saints don’t have as many injuries as United, Mauricio Pellegrino is missing some key players. Star striker Charlie Austin is suspended, not that it matters as he is injured so would miss the games anyway, which makes the authorities look rather silly.

First-choice fullbacks Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares are both out, which will limit Southampton’s efficiency both in an attacking and defensive sense.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Manchester United have conceded four times in their last two league games.
  • The Red Devils have also lost just once in their last nine games.
  • Southampton have scored in seven of their last eight Premier League clashes.
  • The Saints have also conceded 30 goals in 20 fixtures this season.
  • Man United have lost just three times all season, while Southampton have won just four games.

Conclusion

Jose Mourinho is famed for managing defensively solid teams, but United’s back line has been a shambles in recent games. The Red Devils have conceded in six of their last seven games, and will be without the majority of their first choice defenders. Southampton are certainly not be the most frequent scorers, so the home side will likely come away with the three points, but a clean sheet seems relatively unlikely.

Verdict: Man United to Win and Both Teams to Score

Best Odds: 11/5

Bookmakers: William Hill

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