Southampton remain joint-bottom of the Premier League table going into this weekend’s clash at home to Manchester United (Sunday, 4pm GMT).
It’s the second time in three games in which the newly-promoted side are up against a side from Manchester and the encounter with United certainly shouldn’t be any easier than their 4-2 loss away to City.
But Nigel Adkins can seek solace with the fact his side have found their way to goal at the Etihad stadium. However, they are yet to score in front of their own supporters at St Mary’s, having lost 2-0 to Wigan last week.
Rickie Lambert is the one to watch for Southampton. The striker was a big reason why the club were promoted last season, and he gave a good account of himself in the away loss to City on the opening weekend.
It was perhaps a shock that manager Nigel Adkins decided to keep the striker grounded and on the bench at City, but he really lifted his side when he came on, grabbing one of the goals and looking extremely lively around the penalty area.
That’s what Southampton will be hoping for again. Lambert looked good against Wigan last week and was perhaps unlucky not to score. But he’ll certainly be a nuisance to the United defence on Sunday.
On the Manchester United front, there are still injury worries for Alex Ferguson. The majority of his centre-back casualties are out, with only Jonny Evans likely to make a return in the next few weeks. Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, will also miss out due to the horrible cut on his leg from last week’s tie against Fulham.
But United are looking good in attack and have more than enough firepower in the combination of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, both of whom scored on their home debut last week.
Many will be hoping that the Dutchman started as he means to go on, as the striker scored a wonderful volley to draw level with Fulham. Van Persie is a good shout to be first goalscorer at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Bet365 betting odds to win this match:
8/15 Man Utd, 16/5 Draw, 5/1 Southampton
In midfield, Antonio Valencia should push forward to the right-wing position following Rafael’s return last week to the back line. The Brazilian managed to get himself on the score sheet and looked very good going forward. His defensive game is still questionable however, and he’ll be relying on the good work ethic of Valencia.
David de Gea is likely to start in goal again, but he hasn’t been without his flaws. A fairly good game against Fulham last week was stained by the mix up between the keeper and Nemanja Vidic, forcing de Gea to punch the ball into his own net.
If Southampton put pressure on the Spanish keeper early on and consistently, they should be able to get at least a goal.
Unfortunately, that’s all I see for Southampton. Manchester United are by far the stronger of the sides and it’s very difficult to back them for anything other than a win.
Betting Tips Verdict
- Expect Manchester United to leave with all three points. The biggest price of 3/5 with BetVictor about a Man Utd win is short but tempting.
- Van Persie is a good shout to be first goalscorer at 9/2 with BetVictor.
- Rickie Lambert will be Southampton’s danger man and I expect him to score at anytime at best odds of 3/1 with Coral.