- Man United unbeaten in 11 PL games under OGS
- United (55 points), 5th in PL
- Southampton (27 points), 17th
- Saints 2-2 United, in December
It was nothing but smooth sailing for Manchester United — at least, in the Premier League — beginning when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim manager in mid-December, and they’ve continued to roll along with relative ease despite an ongoing injury crisis ravaging the first-team squad. Solskjaer will once again be without a number of key figures for Saturday’s clash with Southampton at Old Trafford (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).
After drawing PL leaders Liverpool last weekend, Man United were without injured stars Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford (all one the bench) from the start of Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace. Such are the spoils of having one of the deepest — and most expensively assembled — squads in the world, when a $97-million player like Romelu Lukaku can return to the lineup after a difficult season and bag a brace — his first goals since Jan. 5.
On the other side, Southampton have a bit of confidence for the first time in quite some time. Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over fellow relegation battlers Fulham snapped a four-game winless skid and pulled Saints two points clear of the relegation zone and 18th-place Cardiff City. The challenge, however, of facing fifth-place United, who trail Arsenal by just one point in their bid to re-enter the top-four after a disastrous start to the season, should prove infinitely more difficult.
Man United — OUT: Jesse Lingard (hamstring), Ander Herrera (hamstring), Juan Mata (hamstring), Nemanja Matic (leg), Antonio Valencia (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (groin) | Southampton — OUT: Mario Lemina (abdomen), Michael Obafemi (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Ings (hamstring)
What they’re saying
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on selection options: “Rashford is fully fit now. I’ll probably start him. I don’t think there will be many changes. It’s the last session today, but we’re not going to take any risks, so maybe Anthony [Martial], but it might just be even a few more days before he’s ready, so probably the squad will look similar to what it did on Wednesday. Maybe one-third of them will be Academy kids — maybe even more — so that’s a good point to take out of it.”
Ralph Hasenhuttl, on the task of Old Trafford: “It’s a tough match, sure, but we go there with more confidence from our side. We had an important win against Fulham, and that helps us a lot, but the pressure is still on, so we will try to do everything to get points there. I know there are easier places to win than Old Trafford, especially at the moment, as the team is now completely different to two or three months ago. It’s now a team that is unbeaten in a long time and the new manager hasn’t lost a game until now, but, for us, it’s important to focus on our strengths and our qualities.”
There’s simply too much on the line for United, who simply have too much talent and depth for Southampton on a three-game week. If the Red Devils score early, it could quickly get out of hand and wind up 4-0.