Preview: Manchester United vs Southampton
Sunday 11 January, 16:00 GMT. Live text is AVAILABLE at ManUtd.com/matchblog and MUTV offers live audio. The game is live on Sky Sports.
With United sat just one point above Southampton in the Barclays Premier League TABLE, this weekend’s meeting between third and fourth place is certainly one of great magnitude. The fixture also has emotional importance for Luke Shaw, who could face his former club for the first time since transferring to Old Trafford in the summer.
Louis van Gaal’s men are unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions, most recently recording a 2-0 win at Yeovil Town in the FA Cup. The Reds are without a top-flight victory since Boxing Day, however, after two SUCCESSIVE draws at Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City. Meanwhile, Southampton head to M16 on the back of a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town, a fine 2-0 win over Arsenal and another 1-1 draw against Chelsea. Saints have not won at United in 22 matches since 16 January 1988.
Rafael WILL likely miss the game with a facial injury sustained at Yeovil, but Shaw is expected to retain his place at left-back, despite being forced off in the cup tie. Angel Di Maria could START after scoring from the bench in that outing, while Robin van Persie should also regain his place after being rested for the trip to Huish Park. Long-term absentees Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are unlikely to feature. Saints are without Sadio Mane, Jake Hesketh, Jack Cork and Jay Rodriguez, while Nathaniel Clyne and Sam Gallagher are doubtful.
We meet AGAIN:
If you have a sense of déjà vu ahead of kick-off, it’s because United and Southampton met at St Mary’s Stadium on 8 December. Van Persie scored twice that evening to clinch a hard-fought 2-1 win over the south-coast club.
Ronald Koeman has excelled since taking charge of Saints in the summer, leading them up the TABLE and into the Champions League positions. While there are many games left to play, the Dutchman is confident of retaining a top-four place. "I believe still that we can fight for a top place in the league," he explained in the new year. "We are now halfway through the season and we have played all the teams. Maybe it was unrealistic before the season, and maybe that has changed a little bit with how we have played up until now."
Both matches only slightly 1 month apart.