Southampton v/s Manchester United, St.Mary’s, 02.09.2012
The Saints against the Devils. Southampton will host Manchester United at St.Mary’s. The League’s newcomers pit their pits against the dethroned champions. United are yet to play to the best of their abilities and Southampton will he hoping this is not the match that they start playing on the top of their game. Nigel Adkins, the Saints manager will regret not taking any points from their first two games when they had good chances of doing so. Manchester United won a thriller against Fulham. While the end result was 3 points but Sir Alex Ferguson knows that his team was not at their best and will need to be more consistent in order to wrestle back their title from their neighbors.
Southampton, who are one of the promoted sides this season have been at the wrong end of a couple of results in the league. They played admirably against the reigning champions Manchester City, only to succumb to a late goal by Samir Nasri. They were exceptional in the game and never looked to be overawed by the champions. Rickie Lambert, coming from the substitute bench made an instant impact against City. He equalized and then set up the second goal for the Saints. Against Wigan they were the better team for most of the match but did not find the back of the net. Wigan on the other hand did and that meant Southampton had nothing to show for their efforts. This is life in the Premier League. Even though they were on the losing side on both the occasions, there were a lot of positives for them. Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana were outstanding for them. Lallana, especially in the No.10 role impressed everyone. Lambert, who was played the role of super sub against was brilliant and inspired the turn around. He was a bit off the pace against Wigan but he will only get better and he gets more exposure in the Premier League. Nigel Adkins will be hoping his team can finally turn their performances into points but they have an uphill task against the Red Devils who will look to build on their win last week. Adkins prefers a 4-3-3 formation but has switched to a more defensive 4-5-1 and with United visiting that looks to continue.
Manchester United have not yet hit the right gear. Defeated by an Felliani inspired Everton match and barely scraping to the finishing line against Fulham is proof that United is still off the pace. Robin van Persie on his home debut last week scored a brilliant goal and adhered himself to the United fans. Wayne Rooney’s injury last week spared Ferguson the conundrum of fitting both him and Persie into the starting 11. With Rooney currently out injured, Persie will spearhead the United attack. United have played with 4-2-3-1 formation in the previous matches and it is likely that the same formation will be delployed at St. Mary’s. After average performances at best against the Londoners last week, Sir Alex will be looking for a strong performance from his team.
Southampton – Nigel Adkins will be hoping to stop the defensive rut his team has been going through. They have played very well offensively but scoring goals is not going to win you matches if you ship in more goals than you score. The Saints had a fairly decent record in the Championship last season but the Premier League has been proved a tough cookie thus far. Adkins is expected to start with the same lineup with which he started the Wigan game i.e. Fonte and Hooiveld in the centre with Clyne and Fox in the full back slots. They have signed Japnese Maya Yoshida who is a central defender who is signed in an attempt to shore up the holes in defense. Whether he gets a game from the start is a question only Adkins can answer. Schneiderlin and Guly will be a part of a midfield three with Adam Lallana orchestrating the attacks. Davis and Rodriguez will start on the wings if Adkins retains the 4-5-1 formation with Lambert playing the sole striker. Gaston Ramirez has signed from the Italian side Bologna but it is improbable that he is thrown direct into the starting 11. If they are to take anything from this game, the Saints will need to be play out of their skins.
Manchester United – If Wayne Rooney has not been taken off injured last week, Sir Alex Ferguson would have been facing the puzzle of accommodating the top scorers of last season in his team. Rooney’s injury has put aside that problem, though only temporarily. Robin van Persie will be looking to add to his sensational strike last week. Kagawa, who has been exceptional will partner Cleverly and either Carrick or Anderson in mifield. Nani who has over the past couple of weeks has been the subject of constant speculation regarding his future could be restored to the starting lineup after Ashley Young put in a weak performance against the Londoners. Valencia was monstrous last week and he probably won’t be messed around with. The defensive area is where the problems begin for United. Vidic is the only fully fit central defender at the moment. Evans is back into the frame but whether he is fit enough to start is a different matter altogether. Rafael and Evra will take their positions on the full back positions. United’s job is made a little considering Southampton are not in the best of forms
Manchester United – Robin Van Persie – Even though Kagawa has stolen the limelight but last week’s sensational finish against Fulham showed exactly what Persie offers to his new club. He is a constant threat in front of goal and he can pull off from nowhere and score with a piece of magic. This is the reason why he is the man that Southampton will need to mark very closely cause if he gets even a slight opening he can punish the opposition.
Southampton – Rickie Lambert –Starting from the bench against Manchester City, he came off and nearly inspired a memorable win. He made incisive runs and caused havoc in the City defense. He played the role of super sub and was rewarded with a start against Wigan. He was a bit subdued in the match but occasionally showed exactly what he is capable of. United are missing defenders and Adkins will hope Lambert can take advantage of the uncertainty.