Who's excited for our first away game of the season?
Manchester United's first away game of 2021/22 is imminent, and the Reds have a rare opportunity to make history.
After the dizzy heights of last weekend's 5-1 win over Leeds – Old Trafford's first full-capacity fixture since March 2020 – United can equal the top flight's longest unbeaten away run if we avoid defeat at Southampton this Sunday.
Arsenal's 27-match streak between 2003-04 is the target we're looking to hit. But more importantly, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the lads are hoping to maintain momentum, after such a bright start to the current campaign. But we're expecting a stiff test at St Mary's – a ground where the Reds have a decent record but rarely avoid a challenging 90 minutes.
Read on for all the background to this Sunday's game, including reports on Southampton's form and summer transfer dealings, plus a detailed recap of recent meetings between the two clubs...
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE MATCH?
The match kicks off at 14:00 BST on Sunday and will be shown live in the UK via Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League. You can also follow events across ManUtd.com and our Official App, where the Match Centre will deliver you the very best in-game stats and insight. MUTV's matchday coverage starts at 12:55 BST, and you'll get the team news first-hand, an hour before the game begins, plus match commentary, analysis, interviews and post-match reaction.
New signing Raphael Varane joined in his first training session at Carrington on Monday, and there's excitement among fans about the Frenchman's prospects of a debut on the south coast. Fellow new signing Jadon Sancho came on for the last 15 minutes against Leeds, receiving a rapturous reception from the Reds' faithful, but could he be in line for a first start against the Saints?
Sancho was involved in a behind-closed-doors practice match at Old Trafford on Tuesday, where United beat Burnley 3-1 thanks to goals from Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Fred. The game was intended to help fitness levels and give some players game time ahead of this weekend's Premier League match, and Tom Heaton, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly were other notable participants.
How their performances might influence Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team selection for the weekend is, as yet, unclear, but we'll get an indication when the boss speaks to the media in his pre-match press conference on Friday. Keep your eyes on ManUtd.com and the Official App for that.
As we already mentioned, United could hardly have started better than crushing Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds by five goals to one. But how did the Saints get on? Ralph Hasenhuttl's men were away at Goodison Park to face Everton – now in the care of ex-Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez – and started well when Adam Armstrong capitalised on a Michael Keane mistake to give the visitors a first-half lead. But the Toffees hit back strongly, with goals from Richarlison, Doucoure and Calvert-Lewin, to finish as 3-1 winners. Southampton had been in good form throughout pre-season though, with three wins from four games. However, they have lost some key players during the summer transfer window: striker Danny Ings joined Aston Villa, while imposing Danish centre-back Jannik Vestergaard left for Leicester City.
HEAD TO HEAD
Last season saw United put Southampton to the sword at Old Trafford, with a 9-0 battering that equalled the Premier League record we set in 1995 against Ipswich. But the match at St Mary's was a much closer affair. Southampton led 2-0 at the interval, thanks to goals from Jan Bednarek and set-piece virtuoso James Ward-Prowse. But the substitution of Edinson Cavani would change the game. First the Uruguayan centred for Bruno Fernandes to halve the deficit, and then two low headers – the second in injury time – ensured United left for the north with all three points. It was a glorious finale, but yet more proof that St Mary's is a tough place to go for the Reds: we've won just two of our last five games there, and have not won by more than one goal at Southampton's home since a third-round FA Cup tie in January 2009.
Southampton boss Hasenhuttl is renowned for his high-intensity style – his love of pressing and quick transitions from defence to attack. His philosophy has earned comparisons to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, which has led to some critics to dub him 'the Klopp of the Alps', due to Hasenhuttl's Austrian nationality. His time at Southampton has been marked by resilience: the 9-0 defeat to United was the second time his team had been beaten by that scoreline in the Premier League, following a sobering evening against Leicester in 2019/20. But each time he has helped his team recover from the trauma of such heavy defeats. They comfortably avoided relegation last term, which makes 2021/22 the club's 10th consecutive top-flight season.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Ian Hussin, Richard West
Fourth official: Jarred Gillett
VAR: Andre Marriner
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts
Here's the rest of the fixtures as the 2021/22 Premier League roars into life...
SATURDAY 21 AUGUST
Liverpool v Burnley (12:30 BST)
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Crystal Palace v Brentford
Leeds v Everton
Manchester City v Norwich
Brighton v Watford (17:30 BST)
All fixtures kick off at 15:00 BST unless stated
SUNDAY 22 AUGUST
Southampton v UNITED (14:00 BST)
Wolves v Tottenham (14:00 BST)
Arsenal v Chelsea (16:30 BST)
MONDAY 23 AUGUST
West Ham v Leicester (20:00 BST)