Manchester United will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League against Southampton on Sunday afternoon.
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will face a dilemma over whether or not to tinker with his starting side for the visit of Premier League basement boys Southampton later today. The Red Devils have named the same team in each of their last two matches and have experienced varying degrees of success, with a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool being followed up by a comfortable win over Real Betis in the Europa League in midweek.
Express Sport takes a look at the United side that could be tasked with claiming back-to-back victories by seeing off the challenge posed by Southampton this afternoon, with the return leg against Real Betis coming up in just four days’ time…
Goalkeeper – De Gea
David de Gea will almost certainly retain his place between the sticks for United against the Saints and will be tasked with keeping his first clean sheet for the Red Devils since the Carabao Cup final. The Spaniard has saved the blushes on his team-mates on several occasions over the course of this season and recently picked up the Save of the Month award for February after parrying a close-range header from Kelechi Iheanacho during United’s victory over Leicester City.
He will be desperate to help United to an impenetrable defensive performance later today as they look to register what should be a routine victory over Southampton, who are the joint-second-lowest scorers in the Premier League this season with just 20 goals since the beginning of the campaign.
Defence – Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw
Ten Hag is likely to pick yet another strong United line-up against Southampton, with little need to rest his most important players ahead of next week’s second-leg match against Real Betis in the Europa League after his side’s impressive first-leg triumph. The Red Devils will be expected to field their first-choice back four later today as a result, with Raphael Varane partnering Lisandro Martinez at the heart of their defence.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has enjoyed a welcome return to prominence this season after forcing his way into Ten Hag’s thinking, could be introduced ahead of Diogo Dalot at right-back while Luke Shaw will be set to occupy his usual role on the left flank.
Midfield – Fred, Casemiro, Fernandes
A deep-lying partnership of Fred and Casemiro is likely to be trusted with keeping things ticking in midfield for United this afternoon, with both players doing their jobs well enough against Real Betis in midweek. They are set to remain the first-choice pairing until Christian Eriksen returns to the fold, with the Dane expected to remain sidelined until closer to the end of the season after picking up a long-term ankle injury back in January, while Donny van de Beek is also unavailable for selection.
Marcel Sabitzer is also a doubt for United against Southampton after sitting out of Thursday’s win due to an unspecified problem, which leaves Bruno Fernandes as the obvious choice to complete United’s midfield trio later today. The Portuguese maestro was widely condemned for his on-pitch attitude against Liverpool a week ago but managed to redeem himself with a goal against Real Betis and will be hoping to produce another top-class performance for the Red Devils at the very next opportunity.
Attack – Antony, Rashford, Weghorst
It would not be a surprise to see Ten Hag name an unchanged front three for the visit of Southampton, with Antony, Wout Weghorst and Marcus Rashford the standout candidates to feature against the Premier League’s bottom club at Old Trafford. All three players managed to get on the scoresheet against Real Betis and will fancy their chances of finding the net again, with Southampton having already conceded 41 times in the league so far this season.
It will be interesting to discover if Weghorst will be able to provide the goods this afternoon following his goal for United in midweek, which marked only his second in a red shirt since joining the club on loan from Burnley in January. The towering Dutchman is still waiting to open his account in the Premier League but will have a great opportunity to do so against Southampton if he can get himself in the right areas over the course of the 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, there will be no place at all in United’s matchday squad for Anthony Martial, who is yet to return to full training as he continues to recover from a hip issue.
Possible Man Utd XI vs Southampton (4-2-3-1) – De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Fred, Casemiro; Antony, Fernandes, Rashford; Weghorst.