Everything you need to know about Southampton
Manchester United are back in action at Old Trafford on Monday night, when the Reds take on Southampton in the Premier League.
The visitors go into the match knowing their top-flight status has been secured for another year, with the south-coast club sitting 12th in the table before the weekend.
Saints were in danger of relegation in the autumn, particularly after an embarrassing 9-0 home defeat to Leicester City, but a run of six wins in nine around Christmas helped Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side pull clear of trouble.
Here’s everything you need to know about Southampton, as they travel to M16 for the first time since March 2019…
Saints have a number of injury doubts ahead of their trip north, with attacker Sofiane Boufal (thigh) and centre-back Jannik Vestergaard (muscle injury) doubtful. Boufal hasn’t played since 19 June, while Vestergaard missed Saints’ win over Manchester City, as well as the draw with Everton at Goodison Park.
Yan Valery (muscle injury) and Moussa Djenepo (calf strain) could also be missing for the visitors.
Southampton have taken to Project Restart well, claiming 10 points from their first five games back. Convincing away wins over relegation strugglers Norwich City and Watford were followed up with a backs-to-the-wall home victory over Manchester City last Sunday. Che Adams scored the only goal of the game with a spectacular 40-yard effort which caught City’s Ederson out – similar to Scott McTominay’s long-ranger in March. Southampton’s last outing saw them take an early lead at Goodison Park through Danny Ings, only to be pegged back by an equaliser from Everton’s Richarlison.
OUR RECORD V SOUTHAMPTON
Monday’s visitors actually have a decent record at Old Trafford, having won two and drawn two of their last six league visits to the Theatre of Dreams. However, United emerged victorious in the last meeting between the sides in M16 – despite Saints taking the lead. Andreas Pereira equalised in stunning fashion with a strike that won our Goal of the Season award, before a double from Romelu Lukaku ensured we claimed all three points, despite James Ward-Prowse’s equally eye-catching free-kick. The reverse fixture this season was played at St Mary’s Stadium way back in August, with Vestergaard’s header levelled Daniel James’s early opener.
Hasenhuttl has been in charge on the south coast since December 2018, when he took over from Reds legend Mark Hughes in the St Mary’s hot seat. Saints had won just one of their first 16 Premier League games, but the Austrian took maximum points from his initial two fixtures and ending up leading his side to safety by a margin of five, from Cardiff City in the third and final relegation spot. A former international who played for Austria Vienna and Cologne, among others, Hassenhuttl cut his managerial teeth in the German leagues, before helping Ingolstadt to their first-ever promotion to the Bundesliga in 2015. He became Red Bull Leipzig manager a year later, and guided Die Roten Bullen to second-place in their debut campaign, instilling a high-energy, fast-pressing style of play that he later introduced at St Mary’s.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ings is one of a number of forwards still in contention for the Golden Boot, with his 19 Premier League goals placing him third in the rankings, behind Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The 27-year-old, who signed from Liverpool on a permanent deal last summer after a spell on loan at St Mary’s, has struck a goal every 129 minutes on average this season, including four in five since the restart.
Ward-Prowse is another key player for the Saints. Awarded the captain’s armband during lockdown, after incumbent Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg admitted his wish to play Champions League football, the 25-year-old is the beating heart of this hard-running and energetic Saints side, and can take a mean set piece – Ward-Prowse is one of only three players to score multiple free-kicks in the Premier League in 2019/20.