Ronald Koeman was the darling of the Premier League for much of last season. The legendary former centre-back of Barcelona managed to take a Southampton side supposedly destined for relegation and actually make them successful. Come the end of the season, they had the second-best defence in the league. Now the pressure is on to replicate.
Louis van Gaal appears to be a wise man after guaranteeing a win before playing Liverpool. The Dutchman was rewarded with a 3-1 victory following a focused week of preparations. His challenge is to start winning more away games, and they actually managed to win this encounter 2-1 last season.
Southampton started the season by conceding five goals in their first two games, but they have kept clean sheets in their last three. This is an indication that Koeman has addressed the defensive issues, which is crucial considering the attacking talents of Man Utd.
The concern, though, is that the Saints have not scored consistently. Scoring three times against Norwich City surprised nobody, but Southampton could not follow that up by getting a goal to beat West Brom last weekend. Koeman’s desire to be strong in defence does limit the attacking prospects of talented attackers Sadio Mané and Dušan Tadi?.
Although Man Utd were able to score freely against Liverpool in the second half of their recent 3-1 victory, you should not be surprised to Man Utd struggle to break down a superior Southampton defence. Figuring out Liverpool’s defence is one thing, but doing the same to Southampton is quite another.
Louis van Gaal will likely be without the injured Wayne Rooney for another game. Despite Rooney’s struggles, there is no doubting that he is a superior striking option compared to Marouane Fellaini. Long balls are unlikely to work against the organised Southampton, which is why van Gaal could turn to Anthony Martial in the second half.
Tip #1: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.66 with ladbrokes
Tip #2: Man Utd draw no bet @ 1.53 with ladbrokes
Man Utd learned an important lesson in losing 2-1 to Swansea, which will improve their prospects of beating Southampton.