During the week, Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United team won their fourth game in a row for the first time in a year with a strong performance against a resilient Stoke side. On Monday, they face yet another challenge in the form of Southampton, whose incredible start to the season has stuttered in recent games with consecutive defeats against Manchester City and Arsenal. Although United are still struggling with their much-publicised injury issues, this match is crucial and could provide the perfect opportunity for the Red Devils to gain some ground on the team’s above them and continue their impressive run of form. The closer to the hectic Christmas period it gets, the more important to secure every available point and capitalise on every point dropped by the teams above and around them. But can the Reds do it?
Ronald Koeman’s team were written off before the season had even started, with a large number of big name departures, including Luke Shaw’s transfer to Manchester United and the loss of their boss Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham Hotspur. However, they have shocked everyone in the way in which they have turned it around and found their way to third in the table. Although in recent games they have struggled, they are still a tough challenge for any team to face. Their record so far this season has been impressive to say the least. Southampton have conceded the fewest goals in the league, letting in just 10 in 14 games and their goalkeeper Fraser Forster has kept seven clean sheets this season. The Saints’ defence is tough for many teams to breakdown, as proved during the week against Arsenal, where it took Arsène Wenger’s team 19 attempts to score their solitary goal. United will need their attack in fine form if they are to get the much needed win.
For Radamel Falcao, this game could provide the ideal opportunity to fully return to first team football, after appearing briefly as a substitute against stoke. Manchester United need Falcao to rediscover the form he had before pre-world cup injury, he has begun to come under some criticism for his current record of just one goal in seven appearances and a swift return to his usual clinical scoring ways is necessary as soon as possible. On the other hand, Saints have had their offence inspired by their new striker Graziano Pellè, who has scored nine goals already this season. Considering some of the defensive displays so far, Pellè could be an issue for the United back four. However, with the solid return of Marcos Rojo against Stoke, Louis Van Gaal will be hoping he can bring some much needed reliability to the game.
Manchester United vs. Southampton is a game that could provide the answers to a lot of questions regarding both teams’ season. For Louis Van Gaal’s men, it is imperative that they keep their heads and remain cool at the back; offensively, they must be clinical to secure the vital three points.
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