Manchester United return from EFL Cup action to travel down to the South coast to face Southampton on Saturday in the Premier League.
We head into the weekend joint-top of the table, with an identical record to Manchester City. We’re coming up against a Saints side who picked up three points last weekend and who weren’t involved in the cup midweek.
Having drawn 2-2 at Stoke City in our last away game, Jose Mourinho will be keen that we get back to winning ways on the road.
Here’s the team I think the boss will name as we go in hunt of three more points:
David de Gea
The Spaniard has been in excellent form to start the season and was given a rest midweek during our game versus Burton Albion. David de Gea will return between the sticks to face Southampton on Saturday.
Another player who got a well-earned break on Wednesday was Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian has made the right-back position his own under Mourinho and will be looking to keep Nathan Redmond quiet whilst offering width going forward himself.
Southampton have failed to score in seven of their last 10 Premier League matches dating back to last season and Eric Bailly will be looking to shut down Manolo Gabbiadini.
The first-choice centre-back partnership were rested midweek though Phil Jones was named among the substitutes as he watched Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelofon on display. Southampton have a few players in their midfield who like to shoot from long range so don’t be surprised if our England international throws himself in front of a shot or two on Saturday.
Daley Blind’s start at left-back over Luke Shaw during the week suggests that Ashley Young is our current first choice in this position. Cuco Martina did find plenty of space down our left last weekend so Young needs to be careful not to give Dusan Tadic both time and space on Saturday because the Serbian can be lethal with the ball at his feet.
Southampton have some creative midfielders such as Tadic and Redmond so Nemanja Matic’s duty will include preventing the ball from reaching them out wide. The aforementioned pair like to cut in field with the ball too, so they can expect our Serbian to cut off their route to goal.
Competing with Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick for this role, I think Ander Herrera’s performance midweek will earn him his place in our starting lineup. He’s the more mobile option of the three and I think that will come in hand with the dynamic players Southampton have cutting in from the wings, as well as closing down Mario Lemina and Oriol Romeu on the ball.
After an excellent performance in the number 10 role versus Burton Albion, Juan Mata should revert to his right wing position on Saturday. The Spaniard will lose out to pace versus Ryan Bertrand this weekend but Mata could cause the Southampton left-back some real problems when he cuts inside.
The hosts are likely to start with three central midfielders so it will be interesting to see how much space and time Henrikh Mkhitaryan gets on the ball. He played fairly well all things considered in our 4-0 thrashing of Everton last weekend, before scoring our second goal late on. Ronald Koeman’s side did cut off the space he had to work with with a central midfield trio.
An excellent performance up front in the EFL Cup, Mourinho’s toughest decision for each game this season appears to be deciding between Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to start down the left wing. I think the Englishman will continue here despite a quiet performance versus Everton. Martial can be introduced as an impact sub in the second half.
There’s no doubting who our number one striker is and Romelu Lukaku will be looking to continue his impressive scoring run for us. Virgil van Dijk is expected to make his first start of the season for Mauricio Pellegrino’s side so the Belgian will certainly look to test the defender’s fitness.
Here is how I think we’ll look on paper: