With only Ashley Young unavailable due to injury, Manchester United finally has a full strength team, and they’re already in a Champions League place.
The Red Devils have Angel di Maria, Rafael, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia all back to full health. All but Rafael and Fellaini start, with the former not listed in the side and the latter on the bench.
They face a top four clash – yes, you heard that right – with Southampton at Old Trafford live on NBCSN at 11am ET or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra. A pair of wannabees look to prove they are worthy of a spot in Europe’s top competition, pushing out a top-four team from last season.
These three points will likely prove vital at the end of the season, and there’s been plenty of build-up to it.
Manchester United also sees new signing Victor Valdes on the bench, as a very capable backup to in-form goalkeeper David de Gea. Falcao is not in the squad, rested according to Louis van Gaal.
For Southampton, manager Ronald Koeman talked a lot midweek about his fellow Dutchman in the opposing technical area, declaring the “I need time” is an excuse that poor managers use in a new job. Dutch winger Eljero Elia sees his Southampton debut today, on loan from Werder Bremen.
Nathaniel Clyne proved himself fit from an ankle injury for a spot in the lineup, while Maya Yoshida is absent on international duty in the Asia Cup. Saido Mane is absent for Southampton as well, whether it’s due to injury or Africa Cup of Nations duty, take your pick.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Blind, Carrick, Rooney, Mata, Di Maria, van Persie.
Bench: Valdes, Evans, McNair, Blackett, Fellaini, Herrera, Wilson.
Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Elia, Pellè.
Bench: K. Davis, Gardos, Long, Tadić, Isgrove, Reed, Targett.