Get set for Southampton’s return to Premier League action at St Mary’s against Manchester United with our in-depth match preview, in association with SportPesa…
Southampton vs Manchester United
Saturday 1st December, 5.30pm GMT
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Matthew Wilkes, Simon Beck
Fourth Official: Roger East
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Saints and Manchester United head into Saturday’s late kick-off at St Mary’s on the back of contrasting cup fortunes during the week.
Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time winner against unfancied Swiss side Young Boys secured United’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League with one game to spare while penalty heartbreak at Leicester ended Saints’ Carabao Cup run.
United’s performance was at odds with the critical result and the same could be said of Saints’ efforts at the King Power Stadium. Twice denied by the crossbar and then by VAR, a spirited recovery is required this weekend to get back on track.
Neither team’s seasons are playing out as hoped but a victory and strong showing to go with at St Mary’s would mark an important step forwards for both sides.
Saints: Mark Hughes’s men will once again be without the services of Danny Ings as the striker gradually moves towards a full return to match fitness. Ings missed the trips to Fulham in the Premier League and Leicester City in the Carabao Cup with a hamstring issue.
Ryan Bertrand is likely to join him on the sidelines due to a back issue; the wing-back has not trained for a number of days at Staplewood Campus but Hughes is hopeful he may feature in the following fixture at Tottenham next Wednesday.
Man Utd: Jose Mourinho delivered the news that Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to play again for Manchester United in 2018 after the Chilean sustained a hamstring injury in training on Thursday.
Also missing out will be Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelof while fellow defenders Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo skipped Tuesday’s Champions League win over Young Boys.
With that in mind, Mourinho used his pre-match press conference to confirm Diogo Dalot’s starting berth at St Mary’s in what will be the Portuguese’s Premier League debut.
Leicester (a) 0-0 (lost 6-5 on penalties, Carabao Cup)
Fulham (a) 2-3 (Armstrong 2)
Watford (h) 1-1 (Gabbiadini)
Man City (a) 1-6 (Ings)
Newcastle (h) 0-0
Young Boys (h) W 1-0 (UEFA Champions League)
Crystal Palace (a) D 0-0
Man City (a) L 3-1
Juventus (a) W 2-1 (UEFA Champions League)
Bournemouth (a) W 2-1
Mark Hughes: “I think we need to keep our options open and go with what we feel will most affect Man United adversely.
We were solid the other night – we were up against good quality players in the likes of Vardy, and we dealt with him, so it will be a similar level of player we face at the weekend and we've just got to do more of the same."
Jose Mourinho: "In December we can focus just on the Premier League. We need points. We want to improve our position in the table, we want to close the gap to the top four, we want to be smelling those positions. Nobody can complain about our mentality and the desire in the last part of the game against Young Boys. I don't think many teams — domestic or abroad — win so many points in extra time."
Southampton: Saints fans will be hoping that this past week can act as a launchpad for Stuart Armstrong’s fledgling Premier League career.
The Scotsman has started consecutive games for the first time on the south coast and will be central to his team’s attacking options at St Mary’s, just as he was at Craven Cottage the previous weekend.
Operating from the number ten role behind Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi recently but with license to drop in and help build, dart wide to create or run the channels to stretch the opposition, Armstrong’s high-energy game has the potential to unsettle an uneasy United defence.
Solid performances from youngsters Yan Valery and Michael Obafemi at Leicester will have done their chances of lining up against United no harm whatsoever, particularly for the former with Ryan Bertrand ruled out through injury.
Man Utd: Manchester United triggered the one-year option on goalkeeper David de Gea's contract this week to avoid any uncertainty over his future heading into the January transfer window.
There appears plenty to do yet to tie De Gea’s future to the club in the long term and his importance to the Red Devils cannot be understated.
The Spaniard has won United’s player of the year award four times in the past five seasons, a testament to his consistency amidst continued disruption both in the dugout since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and in the defensive line in front of him.
Man Utd: 64
Last five meetings:
December 2017: Man Utd 0-0 Saints
September 2017: Saints 0-1 Man Utd
May 2017: Saints 0-0 Man Utd
February 2017: Man Utd 3-2 Saints
August 2016: Man Utd 0-0 Saints
DID YOU KNOW?
- Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Man Utd have won four of their 10 Premier League games against Southampton (D4 L2), having won nine of the last 10 under the Scotsman.
- Manchester United have come from behind to beat Southampton on eight different occasions in the Premier League – no side has done so against a specific opponent more in the competition (also Chelsea vs Sunderland and Man Utd vs Newcastle).
NOT AT THE GAME?
We’ll be bringing you live, in-depth coverage via our interactive match centre here at southamptonfc.com, which also features free commentary and live updates from the game.
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