Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Southampton
Venue: Old Trafford – Friday, August 19 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)
Match Odds: Man Utd 4/9 – Draw 100/30 – Southampton 13/2
Jose Mourinho’s men strolled past Bournemouth last Sunday, winning 3-1 to move to the top of the Premier League after the first weekend, and will now be looking to stay there for the remainder of the season.
A lot is expected of the club this year, with vast amounts of money being invested into the side and global superstars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba set to make their home debuts here.
United have not lost a home league fixture on a Friday since April 1950, winning 13 and drawing six since then. They are favourites for this one and are expected to be too strong for the Saints.
However, the Saints should arrive at Old Trafford in a positive frame of mind, having not lost at Old Trafford in three years. Claude Puel now needs to keep his new team well organised if they are to take anything from Friday’s game.
Southampton were frustrated not to have beaten Watford last weekend, especially as they played against ten men for the later stages of that content, but they avoided defeat and need to ensure they remain competitive in the biggest games this term.
The Saints are set up to counter-attack and will look to hurt United with the pace of Shane Long and Nathan Redmond here, so the hosts need to be wary of the visitors’ threat on the break.
Jose Mourinho has two injury concerns ahead of Friday’s game, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Jesse Lingard both doubtful. Chris Smalling is believed to be in contention again, but may have to settle for a place on the bench. Bastian Schweinsteiger remains out of the first-team picture and won’t feature, while all eyes will undoubtedly be on Paul Pogba, who is available to make his second United debut following his world-record transfer from Juventus. He may have to make an impact from the bench though, with a short preseason affecting his fitness levels.
Southampton boss Claude Puel remains without left-back Ryan Bertrand and central defender Florin Gardos for Friday’s trip to Old Trafford. However, Jose Fonte could be passed fit in time for the game to come into the side. He has been linked with a transfer to United but Puel insists those reports are nothing but rumours.
Manchester United’s form: W
Southampton’s form: D
Key Stat: Manchester United have failed to beat Southampton in their last three home outings against Friday’s opponents, losing each of the last two home games against the Saints by a 1-0 scoreline. Southampton have never won three-straight games at Old Trafford in their history.
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The powerful talisman enjoyed his Premier League debut, finding the net against Bournemouth in the second half. He will now look to shine on his home league debut at Old Trafford. He enjoyed playing against Claude Puel’s Nice side in Ligue 1, bagging 11 goals against the new Saints boss’ team over the past four seasons, including two hat-tricks.
Manchester United 2-1 Southampton – This might not be as comfortable for United as the home fans would like it to be. Southampton were perhaps unfortunate to come away from their opener without a win, after dominating large parts of the game against Watford. They have done well on trips to Old Trafford over the past three seasons and will make things difficult for United here. However, there is a real feel-good factor back at Old Trafford and Mourinho’s men are expected to edge this, with Pogba’s return likely to help carry the team over the line.