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Match Preview: Southampton vs. Manchester United

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Manchester United are back in Premier League action against Southampton on Sunday.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal goes face-to-face with his old rival Ronald Koeman at St. Mary's on Sunday, with Manchester United travelling to Hampshire to take on Southampton. Over the last couple of seasons the Saints have been one of the best of the Premier League's rest, though they've had something of a stuttering start to the new campaign. Perhaps the result of losing midfield general Morgan Schneiderlin to United, they've picked up only six points from their opening five matches.

Still, United should underestimate them at their peril: they've only managed to win one of their last four against the Saints, and Koeman's side came away with a victory when these sides last met in January. In Sadio Mané and Dušan Tadić they have two highly talented attackers, and providing they can hold it together in defence, they could cause United problems.

Team news

Wayne Rooney will be back for United. Three cheers! Hip hip! ... Hip hip! ... This isn't going anywhere, is it? Anyway, he'll likely be given the nod up front in the absence of any better alternatives, while Phil Jones and Luke Shaw are probably and certainly unavailable respectively.

It's Southampton with the worst injury problems at present: they'll be without midfielder Jordy Clasie, defenders Florin Gardoș and Ryan Bertrand, and goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Tactics

Southampton are likely to match United's 4-2-3-1, and play an attractive, possession-based game reliant on mobility in the final third to create the space for goalscoring chances.

Sadio Mané and Dušan Tadić are expected to start as nominal wingers, though they're as dangerous drifting inside off the flank as they are in skinning opposition full-backs. Mané enjoyed an excellent debut season in the Premier League last year, and is one that could cause problems for whoever starts at left-back for United.

Whoever starts at centre-back will have to be wary of the power and strength of Italian striker Graziano Pellè. He's endured a difficult start to the new campaign, though he'll certainly be sniffing around any balls that come into the box.

James Ward-Prowse is expected to be the creative fulcrum of the Saints' attack, with the energetic Steven Davis and the steely anchorman Victor Wanyama behind him. He'll need to afford full protection to a back four that, with the exception of José Fonte, is short on Premier League experience. Left-back Matthew Targett is only 20, and both Virgil van Dijk and Cédric Soares only arrived in the summer.

Without the ball, Southampton will be similar to United. Koeman's side tend to counter-press as soon as they lose it, before retreating into a very disciplined defensive shape after a few seconds. They're a tough side to break down, and if United play like they have recently, it's going to be a very tough match.