Manchester United are set to host in-form Southampton on Monday night in a Premier League fixture which could see United rise to third in the Premier League table. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be keen to extend their impressive 17 game unbeaten run in all competitions when they meet a tricky in-form Saints side.
Having seen direct top-four rivals Chelsea and Leicester City both drop three points in their games this weekend against Sheffield United and Bournemouth respectively, United will be hoping to capitalise by notching a win against Southampton tomorrow night.
Solskjaer will be using the short gap between fixtures to assess where his side can exploit the in-form south coast side and we think we know three of them.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the overlap
Southampton typically deploy a very generic 4-4-2 set-up with Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand operating in the full-back positions.
Walker-Peters has endured a fairly decent run of form of late whereas full-back partner Bertrand has been less than influential, similarly to Bertrand, Nathan Redmond who is often situated directly in front of the English full-back is experiencing a sub-standard patch of form.
Without a doubt, an area of weakness for United to exploit will be to utilise Wan-Bissaka’s offensive capabilities as a way to overload the right side of the pitch. Should the United right-back find himself further up the pitch United could get some joy if they seek to capitalise on Redmond’s reluctancy to track back.
Whipped not floated crosses
Southampton’s defensive back-line are notoriously strong and physical, whereas their physicality may be head and shoulders above United’s, do they have the legs to compete for the ball on the ground?
Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek form the basis of Southampton’s back-four, both well over six foot in height, the Saint’s back-line are going to be very tough to beat in the air.
One area the Reds will be hopeful of exploiting will be to instruct their electrically paced front-three to get on the end of early whipped crosses into the box. The likes of Mason Greenwood should relish cutting inside from the right in an attempt to free up space for the overlapping Wan-Bissaka.
Similarly to what we saw with Anthony Martial’s first goal against Bournemouth two weeks ago, a real threat could come from sharp and pacey whipped balls into the box for United’s fleeting forwards to get on the end of.
Keep your eyes peeled for Premier League assist number five from Wan-Bisska.
Bruno Fernandes’ Muller-esque movement
The next time you watch Fernandes play a game of football, fix your eyes on just him. His off-ball movement is some of the best I have ever seen.
The Portuguese midfielder’s role is hard to define, whilst he is the main source of creativity, he is so much more than just a playmaker. Arguably his off-ball movement is more reminiscent of a Raumdeuter (space investigator), a role created by the great German Thomas Muller.
Fernandes’ ability to draw opposition players away from an area of the pitch which has yet to be exploited is without a doubt going to be a key feature in United’s game against Southampton tomorrow evening.
Southampton typically deploy Oriol Romeu in a holding midfield role, his primary objectives are to break play up which he goes about in industrious fashion.
I am almost certain we will see Fernandes pull Romeu all across Southampton’s back-line which will leave potential game-winning openings available for United’s on-rushing attackers to exploit.
Fernandes’ movement and footballing know-how to bring his team-mates into play at the expense of Romeu’s rigid defensive nature will be a key outlet United will look to profit from.