Fraser Forster might not be able to cope with Zlatan, Pogba and Co.
Manchester United v Southampton, Friday 8.00pm, Sky Sports 1
Clear the diary, clock off work early, and get your Fantasy Football transfers sorted in good time, because Friday night football is here and we’ve got a . What a time to be alive.
In the Premier League’s first installation of Friday night football this season, Southampton travel to Manchester United, where Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba will be making their Old Trafford debuts. Jose Mourinho’s men have the fairly irrelevant title of being ‘league-leaders’ after the opening set of games, but United fans will be hoping the gaffer can put a stop to a recent run of miserable results against the Saints.
Incredibly from the birth of the Premier League up until 2012 Southampton had never registered a victory at the Theatre of Dreams. In fact their record at OT was as miserable as a night in watching back-to-back episodes of The Big Bang Theory. They had lost 12 of their 13 games there, with their best result being a 3-3 draw in September 1999, when Matt Le Tissier hopped off the bench to grab a brace.
However the tide changed three years ago, and Southampton are bordering on becoming a bogey team for the Red Devils.
Adam Lallana nicked an 89th minute equaliser in May 2014 to give Saints a 1-1 draw before goals from Dusan Tadic and Charlie Austin helped Southampton to two 1-0 wins in their next two trips to the Theatre of Dreams.
In their last three trips to Old Trafford Southampton have taken seven points off United – no Premier League team has taken more.
But while Mourinho may not be ‘The Special One’ anymore, he might just have the touch to end Southampton’s recent run against the Red Devils. He was unbeaten in six games against Southampton, and his only loss came in October during his Chelsea meltdown.
The Saints themselves are hardly tearing up the league and could only muster a 1-1 draw in their opening clash against Watford at St Mary’s Stadium. Claude Puel is the new man in charge, but after yet another summer of upheavy for Southampton can they manage another successful Premier League season? The PP traders certainly aren’t convinced and have the Saints at to pick up three points on Friday night, with the home side a super-skinny .
But there may be more value to be had in United, particularly this tempting punt.
Saints have found the net with a single goal in each of their last four trips to Old Trafford, but United to win to nil is tempting at as is the 2-0 correct score at . Eric Bailly arrived from Villarreal for £30m in the summer and has impressed in the heart of defence, while Luke Shaw’s return is a huge psotive, as is Antonio Valencia’s transformation into a fairly decent right-back. Unsurprisingly David De Gea is still a beast between the sticks.
Up top Zlatan Ibrahimovic has shown that age is just a number by bagging in both the Communtiy Shield and the opener against Bournemouth while Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba all offer a significant threat to Fraser Forster’s goal.
Manchester United have won 34 home games in the last three years, and 44 per cent of them have been by exactly two goals. Under Mourinho they immediately look more threatening than under the regimes of David Moyes or Louis van Gaal, so you can expect that number to rise slightly and at , a 2-0 win for the Red Devils could be the perfect start to the weekend.