This Sunday, Manchester United are set to take on Southampton, in the Red Devils’ first Premier League match since the 7-0 thrashing at Anfield last weekend.
Despite the heavy loss to the club’s fiercest rivals, Erik ten Hag will go into this game with high expectations, following a 4-1 victory over Real Betis in the Europa League Round of 16 on Thursday night.
The Saints travel to Old Trafford having not defeated the home side since 2016, a streak Manchester United will look to maintain ahead of the fixture. That said, the last 10 match-ups haven’t reflected well on United either, drawing six and winning four against Southampton, keeping only four clean sheets.
Southampton’s captain, James Ward-Prowse, poses a significant threat to De Gea’s goal on Sunday. The Englishman has scored 17 free-kicks in the Premier League alone- just one away from equalling Old Trafford legend, David Beckham, as the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer from direct free-kicks.
David de Gea has been a highly debated talking point amongst the Manchester United fanbase, as supporters are anything but united on whether the goalkeeper should have a future at the club. When asked about the Spaniard’s distribution, one of his weaknesses, Erik ten Hag replied, “I can’t ignore it, but I think we have seen many games he did really well”, before suggesting the wind or the ball had an impact on De Gea’s poor passing against Real Betis.
Despite United going into this game heavy favourites, Ten Hag emphasised the need for an “outstanding performance” to come out on top, adding how his side “have to be 100% and give the best performance to beat them”, citing Southampton’s win against Chelsea last month.
Manchester United may look to Bruno Fernandes to provide some of the fight needed to win this fixture, with the Portuguese international, ranked second in big chances created in the league (18), returning to form.
As for injury news, United fans may be happy to hear that Anthony Martial could return to the squad on Sunday, following yet another injury keeping the Frenchman on the sidelines. Summer signing, Christian Eriksen, is also said to be making good progress, with a potential return after the international break in Ten Hag’s sight.