It took until the 91st minute for Manchester United to find the winner at home against BSC Young Boys in the midweek Champions League fixtures.
Such is their ineffectiveness in creating chances, José Mourinho’s team are so far from the top that it takes some willpower to even sit through their games.
Southampton, too, are struggling. Mark Hughes’ job is on the line – currently 1/10 to become the next Premier League manager to get the sack with Ladbrokes - and finds his team seven games without a win in all competitions.
It’s even worse in the Premier League due to Saints having not recorded three points since September 1, over three months ago.
Both teams are coming into this match in search of a spark. Manchester United’s fans are aghast with how their team play football, while Southampton’s are just looking for any inkling of optimism heading into the Christmas fixture congestion.
It was only recently that Southampton went on a three-game barren run in front of goal in the Premier League. Their goalscoring record this season has been atrocious, having only found the back of the net on 10 occasions in 13 games. Only Huddersfield and Crystal Palace have scored less.
Mourinho’s men are defunct of any sort of confidence at the moment and their performance against Young Boys was horrendous. Once again, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of game plan or identity to United’s game, but instead, a more hit-and-hope job that eventually lands to Marouane Fellaini to salvage something.
While United are better on the road than at Old Trafford, Southampton will not be intimidated one bit when going up against this side.
Like Bournemouth showed, if any team gets at the Red Devils’ defence, they have the opportunity to punish them. The only problem for Hughes is that he does not have a striker who is clinical in front of goal.
This game is likely to follow suit in the same way it did against Young Boys: a lot of midfield passes and a lack of penetration into the final third from both teams.
Saints have seen under 2.5 goals in five of their last six matches against Manchester United in all competitions, which is why this selection is most certainly one to consider.
Clean sheets might have come few and far between for David de Gea this season, but with Southampton’s wretched attack creating limited chances for striker Danny Ings, Mourinho’s players have the perfect opportunity to keep the opposition out.
While United’s defence has been chaotic at times this season, there has been two standout players: Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelöf. Unfortunately for Mourinho, the Sweden international is ruled out through injury for several weeks and so Phil Jones has come in to replace him.
Against Young Boys, Man United kept a clean sheet and thwarted any danger. Though, it was De Gea’s excellence that kept them from going 1-0 down with an impeccably-timed goal-line save that was simply breathtaking.
David de Gea 😮— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 27, 2018
What. A. Save! pic.twitter.com/2wWsSixYZL
The Spaniard deserves more opportunities to keep clean sheets and he will expect his defence to hold strong against a forward line that has only mustered up 10 goals all season.
Southampton lack a clinical edge to their play and cannot rely on any one of their centre-forwards to consistently find the back of the net.
Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches against Southampton, with Saints looking even more unlikely to trouble De Gea this season.
Manchester United remain one of the hardest teams to predict given their game plan seemingly changes every time the wind blows, as well as their mental aptitude, but they really ought to be beating a sorry-looking Southampton side.
Hughes is on the ropes and the South Coast outfit have reportedly already been looking for possible replacements, with Paulo Sousa, formerly of QPR, being the frontrunner for the job at 4/6 with Paddy Power.
Given the Red Devils have won eight of their last 10 away matches at Southampton, it looks more than likely that they will make it nine from 11 come Saturday evening.
Mourinho’s job appears to be safe until it’s mathematically impossible to make the top four, but he really needs to win over the fans should he envisage a future at the club.
Good football is what counts right now and he needs to show the travelling fans something worthwhile - which will in turn lead to positive results.
Manchester United have quality in their team, no one can deny that, and it’s about time they showed that over the course of 90 minutes. Hughes’ men are likely to be deflated after yet another loss during the week and could possibly down tools in order to get the Englishman out of his position.
The Red Devils are 10/11 with Unibet to claim the three points and return to Manchester with a much-needed feel good factor.
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