YARDIE SPORTS PREVIEW
Man Utd vs Southampton preview
Injuries has always been a manager’s nightmare. A manager who is no stranger to big clubs, big players and big games is Loius Van Gaal. Louis Van Gaal has managed and won titles in three different leagues. But has never faced a torrid injury crisis like that which he is now facing at his current club Manchester United. However, over the past week Louis Van Gaal smile is as wide as the ocean and as beautiful as Miss World, mainly because Manchester United have been bolstered by the return to fitness of Angel di Maria, Rafael, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia. Ashley Young is their only absentee with a hamstring injury. United’s results recently have shown that there are signs of life at Old Trafford, but it shouldn’t necessarily be the results that provide encouragement. That should come from the sense that no matter how good those results are, their manager will always want more.
Manchester United are now 10 games unbeaten in all competitions and is set to make it eleven on the trot when they play the return fixture with Southampton at old Trafford. Despite a stuttering sluggish start to their EPL campaign the ‘Red Devils’ results at Old Trafford have been really good of late, they have won their last five home games, which it is a telling sign that they are rebuilding their fortress. Southampton will have their own opportunities too, and the key for them will be how brave they are when they go forward. Southampton could hand a debut to Dutch winger Eljero Elia following his transfer from Werder Bremen.
Nathaniel Clyne and Jack Cork have overcome ankle injuries but Maya Yoshida is on international duty.
Sadio Mane could be out all month with a calf complaint, although he has been named in Senegal’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Southampton should have been a write-off after the sale of key players. At least, that’s what many pundits predicted in pre season. Mind you, it’s almost a year to the day since chairman Nicola Cortese left St Mary’s and last January there were some who predicted a doomsday scenario over his departure.
It’s credit to the players and the shrewd management of Ronald Koeman that Southampton are looking to build on their impressive finish of eighth last season, especially after overcoming their recent blip – they’re now unbeaten in five games.
The Saints’ will have to produce a fine display at Old Trafford if they want to win, a ground which has produced over two-thirds of United’s current tally of 37 points. Though Southampton are yet to beat a team currently in the top five of the league table this can prove to be a tricky fixture. Ronald Koeman’s side have kept nine clean sheets in 20 games – a joint-league high along with Chelsea. They have conceded 15 goals this season, four fewer than any other club. James Ward-Prowse has provided three goal assists in his last three league appearances. Manchester United only home defeat came on the opening day of the season against Swansea. They have since earned 25 points from a possible 27, winning their last five. No side have scored more than once against the Red Devils in their last 12 league games, with Van Gaal’s side keeping four clean sheets during this period. Van Gaal has praised the patience of the United supporters and they will be applauding again if he steers them to their intended destination of a pathway into Europe with a top-four finish.
Written by Marvin Walters