|Southampton 1 v 1 Manchester United|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 22nd August 2021 Kick-off 14:00
Southampton V Manchester United The Preview
Sunday, 22nd Aug 2021 10:41
Saints take on Manchester United at St Mary's with few people, even most of their own supporters giving them a chance, but stranger things have happened in football and if we select the right team we can surprise a few people.
It was only 9 months ago that United last visited St Mary's and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, in November, back then after 9 games Saints were 5th after topping the table a couple of weeks earlier and United were 10th.
Saints lead 2-0 at half time and lost the game in the last minute, back then there was some positivity amidst Saints supporters and this would continue for a couple of months yet.
But most Saints fans these days choose to forget the first half of the season and focus on the negative, yes the second half of the season was appalling, but there were reasons behind that, mainly injuries so there is cause to hope that the 2nd half of that season was a freak period of time rather than reflective of the team as a whole.
Of course we can't forget that result at Old Trafford, but that game perhaps was typical of the luck we enjoyed in the first months of 2021, a team ravaged by injury, reduced to 10 men in the first minute, some poor refereeing and VAR decisions, a bench with two goalkeepers on it and only 1 experienced outfield player in the middle of a bunch of kids.
Indeed most Saints fans would find it hard to recall Allan Tchaptchet as a substitute and his transfer value on Transfermarkt is given as £135 k, lower than many of the players he came up against that night earn in a week.
So on paper today looks a foregone conclusion, but two things should be noted, firstly when we had the same result against Leicester we beat them the next time we played them, secondly we now have a bigger squad and the bench today will have experience on it and for that matter so will the starting XI.
But if we are to stand a chance of getting anything out of today we need to put out the right side and a week ago at Everton we very much did not do that.
Kyle Walker Peters, Jan Bednarek and Stuart Armstrong were solid and consistent even during our bad run last season, to think of a side going out with out one of them in the starting XI and the other two left on the bench is unthinkable, for all three to be left out was truly bizarre.
The only positive thing that came out of that was the fact that we discovered that in Tino Livramento we have a star in the making.
So today Ralph Hasenhuttl has to go back to basics, no faffing around with the starting line up , have a solid defence, a good strong workmanlike midfield and with Adam Armstrong's work rate up front with Che Adams it gives us a chance.
So for me there are four changes to be made , firstly Fraser Forster should return to the Saints goal, Alex McCarthy for much of the game at Everton looked ok, but although in many respects you can blame him for the three goals, for all of them there were questions asked, his reflexes are slow and too many time he fails to react, like too many times last season the ball went past him with his hands by his side and no reflex action to stop the ball.
In defence there are two changes to be made KWP back to right back and Jan Bednarek into the centre of defence and then finally in midfield Stuart Armstrong.
But these changes should not all be like for like, Forster for McCarthy and Bednarek for Stephens are the two simple ones, at right back KWP should come in but Tino Livramento should not be dropped, but moved to midfield, with Stuart Armstrong joining him there that would mean Moussa Djenepo and Theo Walcott dropping to the bench.
This would be harsh on Djenepo who was a big threat at Everton and with a little bit of end product he could have been man of the match and a different result.
Yes it would also reduce our attacking threat a little, but with United the visitors we have to make sure we compete in a game that is likely to be one of the toughest of the season at home.
So the line up should be
KWP, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud
Livramento, Romeu, JWP, Armstrong (S)
Adams, Armstrong (A)
That is a strong solid line up and is about digging in and earning our right to be in the game and then get something out of it, United had a great result against Leeds last week, but the Yorkshire side can play only one way and that is press and attack and this allowed United to run riot, we have to make sure we don't allow that to happen.
Earlier I mentioned the bench at Old Trafford and perhaps when we look at the players we can pick on the bench assuming my starting line up it highlights that the squad now has some depth.
Walcott, Djenepo, Diallo, Broja, Redmond, Tella & Stephens, even those who are now truly fringe like Shane Long & Moi Elyounoussi and some promising youngsters like Dynel Simeu, Caleb Watts and Will Smallbone when he returns from Injury.
You could at present even add a couple of players who at one time looked destined for the top but have faded a little in Yan Valery and Michael Obafemi.
One thing that can be said is that unlike last season when we were down to the bare bones, now Ralph Hasenhuttl has options in all areas.
Today is going to be a tough task, such is the Premier League and it's riches that with every season the gap widens between the Big Four clubs and the rest, we go to St Mary's today as much in hope as expectation, but it is hope that makes us support football clubs these days.
This is not a lack of ambition or resignation it is fact, I go this afternoon with the hope that we put out a solid side, that we compete with United and do not disgrace ourselves and finally the hope that we might get something out of the game.
If we do that then we can then move on to the games where we can get points on the board, with a new centre half imminent and perhaps another signing on top, there are many things to be optimistic about this season.
This season sees 25 years since we memorably beat Manchester United twice at the Dell, the first 3-1 when they changed their shirts at half time and the second the 6-3 rout, you never know this afternoon might be one of those great days that we go to football matches for.
Photo: Action Images
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Blogs 31 bloggers
When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
When Saturday Comes #5 by wessex_exile
“Well, I can tell u my son was stood nearer the back of the Holker Street end and although he couldn't see who was responsible, he was disgusted and was very clear in telling me that the 'N' word was used by someone stood directly behind the goal nearer the front. I'm sick of hearing this, no one but the player being abused heard anything so maybe he was mistaken crap. This shite still exists despite everything that the authorities try to do because unfortunately there are still racists in every, city, town, village and hamlet in this country. [SwearFilter] scum of the earth.”
When Saturday Comes #4 by wessex_exile
I start with an apology for the no-show last weekend, but for all the right reasons. My nephew and his fiancé finally managed to tie the knot on Friday, at the fifth time of asking (previous four attempts falling foul of covid restrictions unfortunately). It was a fantastic afternoon and evening over in Essex, but meant it just wasn’t possible to get a blog produced. A significant proportion of the wedding party were U’s supporters, including the groom, but any thought of live-streaming the Rochdale game at the evening celebration might have resulted in the fastest divorce on record, so we contented ourselves with surreptitious glances at the BBC Sports updates – and what an own goal it was! Different circumstances, but I was (painfully) reminded of Aidan and Kevin’s howler at Blackburn – golden rule, never, ever pass the ball directly towards your own goal.
When Saturday Comes #3 by wessex_exile
The goalless U’s have eventually got that monkey off their backs, with the Frank and Freddie show combining to win a somewhat dubious penalty, in the 5th minute of injury time, allowing Freddie to get his new goal account at the U’s off and running (all in all he now has 37 goals, five of them penalties). It was tight though, and on another day the goalkeeper would have got a hand to it, but they all count, whether it’s a 25 yard peach or one off the arse. Everyone has rightly said that without doubt Mansfield were the best side we’ve faced so far – I’ll go so far as to say they’ll probably be one of the best sides we face all season. Though it wasn’t comfortable viewing at the time, some of their passing and movement, particularly on the break, was breath-taking at times. But enough of the love-in, however good they were, the U’s stood up to them, kept them out for the most part, and eventually got the point we deserved.
When Saturday Comes #2 by wessex_exile
Two games into the season, and although still goalless, it has been a reasonably promising start for the U’s. A tough opening day fixture away at Carlisle, and in front of a bumper crowd which delayed kick-off by 15 minutes, the U’s were largely resolute in defence, whilst still creating enough chances to have won the game if our finishing had been sharper. To be fair though, were it not for prodigal son Shamal George making his return to Brunton Park, we could just have easily lost – a performance which rightly earned him the Man of the Match award. Midweek at Championship club Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup was an even more spirited performance, and one which really should have seen the U’s victorious, but if you don’t take your chances you will get punished, and we did in the 75th minute. Much has been said about the opposition being a second (third?) string side, and with players taking the field with squad numbers in the 50s, that can’t be disputed. But, when you’re facing a team that actually has squad numbers in the 50s, you realise just how big a club our opposition was.
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