The so-called “experts” who were writing off Southampton as relegation fodder at the beginning of this season have certainly been made to look just a bit foolish as the Saints have made impressive progress despite losing their manager and some key players.
Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Ricky Lambert were all sold last summer with Ronald Koeman replacing Tottenham-bound manager Pochettino.
The appointment of Koeman has proven to be a shrewd move as Saints currently occupy third place in the English Premier League on merit and are looking on course for a place in next season’s Champions League.
This unexpected success has largely been built on the back of a defence which has only leaked 15 goals in the 21 premier league matches played so far. Their most recent shut-out at Old Trafford last week saw them come away with all three points following an almost immaculate display of defensive football.
The big question about tomorrow’s match from a United perspective will be how on earth are we going to score against such a proficient defence? If Manchester United couldn’t score against them at Old Trafford it makes me wonder where any goals for us will come from tomorrow?
We’ve only been able to find the net 25 times this season, so we hardly score for fun. And we’re not exactly bristling with goalscoring talent.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, at the other end our own defence has let in more than twice as many goals as Southampton – so statistically this is not looking good!
Just to add to our woes, United will be without Cheick Tiote and Papiss Demba Cisse who have linked up with their national squads for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Ahead of the match, acting United Manager or Head Coach (or whatever the title is this week) John Carver has been giving his opinion on the visitors:
“They deserve to be where they are. To be sitting third in the Premier League after what they lost in the summer is quite incredible. The recruitment under Les Reed has been fantastic. He’s done a great job behind the scenes”
“They have replaced the players with better players in my opinion. And obviously appointed a top head coach who has them well organised and working extremely hard for each other as we saw at Old Trafford last weekend”
“But they also have talent. Tadic and Pelle are goalscorers and Ward-Prowse who have come through the system. We are hearing that Schneiderlin and Wanyama could be missing because of injury which is a plus for us”
“They have a lot of talent in their team and they deserve to be where they are.”
United will need to be at our very best to get anything out of this game. A full 90 minutes of the performance we put in during the first half against Chelsea would be welcome!
What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.
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