MX23RW : Tuesday, December 11 13:45:18
Dec 1, 2018 at 5.30pm UK at ​St Mary's Stadium
Southampton
2-2
Man UtdManchester United
Armstrong (13'), Soares (20')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Lukaku (33'), Herrera (39')

Preview: Southampton vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Two managers in desperate need of a victory will face off on Saturday afternoon when Mark Hughes's Southampton welcome Jose Mourinho's Manchester United to St Mary's.

The hosts go into the match languishing in the relegation zone, while United are seventh in the table and already 14 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.


Southampton

Mark Hughes in charge of Southampton on September 17, 2018© Reuters

The bookmakers have Hughes as the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post - marginally ahead of his opposite number this weekend - and while defeat to Manchester United may not seal his fate, it would surely edge him closer towards the exit door.

The former United striker has won just three of his 21 league games in charge of the Saints, just about doing enough to stave off the threat of relegation last season but plunging the team straight back into trouble this term.

Indeed, many other clubs may have already pulled the trigger, particularly following last weekend's 3-2 defeat to fellow strugglers Fulham which ensured that only goal difference is currently keeping Southampton off the bottom of the table.

Since that see-saw thriller at Craven Cottage Southampton have also been eliminated from the EFL Cup courtesy of a midweek penalty shootout defeat to Leicester City in their rearranged fourth-round fixture.

The Saints therefore come into Saturday's match without a win inside normal time from their last 11 outings across all competitions, stretching back to their 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on September 1.

That victory at Selhurst Park remains Southampton's solitary league win of the season, and one of the main concerns nested in that statistic is that Hughes's side remain winless in front of their own fans this term.

Indeed, the Saints are currently enduring their longest ever wait for a home league win from the start of a season while being one of only two teams yet to pick up a home victory this term, and their poor form at St Mary's now stretches back a full year.

The first home game of December 2017 began a run of just one win in their last 17 league outings at St Mary's, with that coming against Bournemouth in April.

Half of Southampton's points this season have still come on their own turf, but Hughes will be acutely aware that it is a points tally which could be significantly better had his side been able to hold on to leads.

The south coast outfit have dropped more points than any other team so far in 2018-19, taking the lead on five occasions but going on to win just one of those - not an ideal record going into a game against a United side that has made a habit of coming from behind in recent weeks.

Hughes will likely need to pull off a few shocks and upset the odds at some stage over the coming weeks if he is to keep his job, though, with three of his side's next four games coming against members of last season's top six.

Recent Premier League form: LDDLDL
Recent form (all competitions): DDLDLL


Man Utd

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho reacts to his side's late winner against Young Boys on November 27, 2018© Reuters

Jose Mourinho's furious eruption of emotion at Marouane Fellaini's late winner against Young Boys in midweek demonstrated a mix of frustration, relief and perhaps even vindication.

The United boss certainly took the opportunity to talk up his achievements in the post-match press conference, but despite his repeated insistence that his record remains special there is no doubt that the aura around both Mourinho and United has further deteriorated this season.

Fellaini has long been an effective Plan B for United, but the Red Devils should not have had to rely on the Belgian - and a stunning David de Gea save - to see off a Young Boys team missing a host of their best players at Old Trafford.

Even the victory - and the passage through to the last 16 which it secured - is not enough to paper over the cracks of what was another uninspiring performance from the 20-time champions of England, which came just three days after a goalless draw with Crystal Palace.

United could have easily lost that game to the Eagles, but the stalemate means that only this weekend's opponents have recorded more 0-0 draws than United's tally of 10 since Mourinho took charge at Old Trafford.

It is a damning statistic for a club of United's size and attacking heritage - particularly considering the talent they have at their disposal in the final third - and they will go into this weekend's match having scored the joint-fewest goals in the top eight of the table.

The result against Palace did at least hand them their first clean sheet in eight league games and just their second of the season, but they simply must improve at both ends of the field if they are to bridge what is now a seven-point gap to the Champions League places, having registered a negative goal difference after 13 games of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1977-78.

Any lingering hopes of a title challenge were effectively ended by the derby defeat to Manchester City before the international break, and United now find themselves closer to bottom-of-the-table Fulham than they are to their local rivals at the top.

However, Mourinho has vowed to take United back into the top four before the end of the year, and despite patchy form which has seen his side win five, draw four and lose four of their last 13 games, they will still be favourites to overcome a struggling Southampton team this weekend.

Previous trends this season suggest that United may have to do it the hard way, though; they have conceded a joint-league high five goals in the opening 15 minutes of games in 2018-19, but have come from behind to beat Southampton on eight occasions in the Premier League - a joint-high in the competition.

However, should United suffer defeat then they would equal their club record of seven Premier League away losses in a calendar year and further questions will surely be raised over Mourinho's future ahead of Wednesday's trip to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Recent Premier League form: WDWWLD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLDW


Team News

Alexis Sanchez during a Manchester United training session on October 1, 2018© Reuters

Alexis Sanchez picked up a hamstring injury in training on Thursday and is a doubt for this match, although he was an unlikely starter anyway after being left out of the squad entirely for the midweek win over Young Boys.

Mourinho also notably left Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku out of his starting lineup for that game, but both were called off the bench and contributed to the eventual victory so are expected to be brought back into the team on Saturday.

Lukaku is now 11 games without a goal for the Red Devils, although he has scored four goals at St Mary's in the Premier League - only Olivier Giroud and Robin van Persie have ever netted more at the stadium as visiting players.

Anthony Martial has stepped up during Lukaku's drought, scoring four of United's last five Premier League away goals, with only Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having registered more on the road this season.

Victor Lindelof remains sidelined which means that Phil Jones is likely to partner Chris Smalling once again, while Luke Shaw should return from his domestic suspension and Ashley Young is expected to come in for Antonio Valencia.

Southampton, meanwhile, will likely have to make do without Ryan Bertrand (back) and Danny Ings (hamstring) once again, although both could be fit in time for next week's games.

Shane Long is also expected to miss the game with an ankle problem, while Matt Targett is a doubt after suffering a head injury in midweek.

Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Cedric, Yoshida, Hoedt, Targett; Lemina, Hojbjerg; Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Redmond; Austin

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Young, Smalling, Jones, Shaw; Fellaini, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Martial


Head To Head

United are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Southampton across all competitions, but there has been just one goal in the last three league editions of this fixture - a Lukaku winner at St Mary's last season.

The Saints have managed two wins in their last eight meetings with United - as many as in their previous 22 before that - but both of those victories came at Old Trafford.

Southampton have not won at home to United since a 1-0 victory in August 2003, when James Beattie scored the only goal of the game in the 88th minute.


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We say: Southampton 0-1 Manchester United

Nothing we have seen from these two sides so far this season suggests that this will be a thriller. Both managers and both clubs desperately need a win to lift their spirits, but Southampton are in dire form at the moment and United should have enough to scrape another victory.


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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Southampton and Manchester United?

Southampton
Draw
Man Utd
Southampton
4.2%
Draw
10.4%
Man Utd
85.4%
Manchester United duo Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku warm up during the Champions League clash with Young Boys on November 27, 2018
Read Next:
Man Utd team news: Predicted XI vs. Southampton
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool1613303462842
2Manchester CityMan City1613214593641
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs16120430161436
4Chelsea16104233132034
5Arsenal16104235201534
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd167542826226
7Everton166642319424
8Bournemouth167272526-123
9Leicester CityLeicester166462120122
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves166461719-222
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham166372325-221
12Watford166372023-321
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton166371922-321
14Cardiff CityCardiff1642101530-1514
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle163491322-913
16Crystal Palace1633101323-1012
17Burnley1633101532-1712
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield1624101027-1710
19Southampton161691330-179
20Fulham1623111640-249

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