Manchester United vs Southampton preview, betting tips and prediction: United must bounce back from disappointing week

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Manchester United host Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday in desperate need of a victory to ease the pressure after successive 2-2 draws against Leicester and Burnley. At the time of writing, they are 12 points behind neighbours and league leaders Manchester City, but with City facing Newcastle at St James’ Park on Wednesday, before United next kick a ball, that gap could be 15 points, rendering the title race all but over.

In reality, City’s fine form means that even without Jose Mourinho’s men’s recent slip ups, they wouldn’t have much hope of catching them anyway. Attention is turning to securing second place, with both Chelsea and Liverpool focussed on it. Southampton could be the ideal opponent for United to face, given that they were so comprehensively beaten at Tottenham on Boxing Day. But Mauricio Pellegrino prides himself and his team on defensive organisation; after frustrating both Chelsea and City own patches recently, albeit losing in the end, they might feel they can get something out of this game.

But we think United will nip their poor run in the bud with a fairly comfortable win in this one.

Form

Before their draw at Leicester, in a game they really should have wrapped up having missed a number of great chances, United looked okay. As mentioned above, their title chances have not been great for weeks and they took the biggest dent earlier this month with defeat at home to Manchester City. They had not lost at Old Trafford all season and haven’t since; in fact, City are the only team to beat them at home in the last season and a half, a run that spanned over 40 games. Burnley did come within minutes of doing so, though, having led 2-0 at one stage on Tuesday.

Southampton have not won in seven games, since comprehensively beating Everton at the end of last month. Boxing Day’s stuffing at Spurs and a home loss to Leicester earlier in the December aside, though, the Saints have competed quite well and earned some decent draws. They were unlucky not to beat Arsenal at home, with the Gunners pulling them back and earning a point with an Olivier Giroud header. They currently sit 14th in the table, just two points above the drop zone.

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Team News

Despite Mourinho’s complaints that United can’t compete with the spending of their rivals, they have a huge amount of quality at their disposal and they should all be fit for this one. Luke Shaw will be particularly keen on starting against his former club after a recent upturn in form.

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Southampton suffered a blow in their recent encounter with Huddersfield, with one of the most in-form strikers in the Premier League, Charlie Austin, suffering an injury. He will miss the trip to Old Trafford, while Virgil van Dijk continues to be left out amid transfer speculation. He has been linked with a January switch to Liverpool.

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