Manchester United will be looking to get back to winning ways on Saturday when they host a Southampton outfit targeting their first Premier League win in eight games.
Date: 30 December 2017
Match Day 21
Kick-off: 19H30 (GMT+2)
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: C. Pawson
Assistants: P. Kirkup, R. West
Fourth official: R. Madley
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Manchester United 85 49 19 17
Southampton 85 17 19 49
Southampton 0-1 Manchester United 23/09/17 (Premier League)
Manchester United goalscorers: R. Lukaku (20′)
Players to watch
The hosts will be hoping Jesse Lingard’s rich vein of form continues against the Saints. The 25-year-old winger has been afforded more opportunities in recent weeks, due to the decline of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and has scored five goals in his last six games.
With leading scorer Charlie Austin on the sidelines, the Saints could back striker Manolo Gabbiadini to add to his three goals. The Italian has found himself on the fringes of the first team recently but is likely to get the nod against United.
Team form and manager quotes
Jose Mourinho’s charges have drawn their last two top-flight games. Against Leicester City, Harry Maguire netted a stoppage-time equaliser to claim a 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, and in United’s most recent clash, they drew 2-2 again thanks to Jesse Lingard scoring twice to salvage a point against Burnley at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils’ Premier League title challenge now appears to be hanging by a thread. Despite sitting in second position in the standings, United are already 15 points adrift of the unbeaten Manchester City.
“I think we played very well in both matches, probably the frustration is because we played so well but we made mistakes that cost us the points in both matches,” Mourinho told his press conference, when asked about the last two draws.
“We conceded goals but we played very very well in both matches, we played very offensive, in a very creative way, we gave a freedom to the players, we didn’t score enough goals in relation to what we create, so we were punished by not having great efficiency in both boxes but we played very well in both matches.”
Meanwhile, the Saints have found it tough going in the league of late. They have not managed a win in their last seven fixtures, losing four times, and come into the game on the back of a humbling 5-2 defeat at the hands of Tottenham on Tuesday.
However, Mauricio Pellegrino’s men will take heart from Southampton’s recent record at Old Trafford. The Saints have won two of their last three games at United’s home ground.
A win for Southampton could move them up from 14th to 12th position in the standings. They currently sit only two points clear of the bottom three.
Pellegrino told his pre-match press conference: “Man Utd is a powerful team, but we’re in a moment where we have to think more about what we have to do.”
United could welcome Anthony Martial back into the side on Saturday after the Frenchman overcame an injury that saw him miss the draw against Burnley.
Southampton are still missing full-backs Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand to injury, while striker Charlie Austin has a hamstring problem and is suspended.