Manchester United fell to third in the Premier League table after failing to find a winner against Southampton at home. Jose Mourinho’s side once again spent much of this match lacking cohesion and inspiration in attack, without looking particularly solid in defense either.
Romelu Lukaku should have put the Reds in front in the 4th minute, but after getting in front of his defender, could only direct Juan Mata’s cross wide. It was an opportunity that the Belgian likely would’ve buried early in the season, and unfortunately he would not get a chance to redeem himself. Just a few minutes later, Lukaku had to be stretchered off with an apparent head injury following a nasty-looking clash of heads. The sight of the striker lying prone for a full five minutes was a worrying one, and fans will hope that the length of time he was on the ground was merely a matter of precaution.
In the 17th minute, Mata and Marcus Rashford - just on for Lukaku - started a counter-attack with some excellent play, only for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to make a hash of it with a poor ball at the end. Mata and Rashford were United’s most effective probers, and they continued to cause problems for the Southampton backline. A largely open first half ended with United in control of play, but unable to break through.
After the restart, it was the Saints that nearly went ahead. Shane Long was holding his own against United’s defense, and after being played in, only a brilliant David De Gea reflex save kept him from opening the scoring. On the other end, the Reds attack continued to look devoid of ideas. In the 65th minute, Mourinho made his first tactical change, sending on Anthony Martial in place of the disappointing Mkhitaryan.
Paul Pogba thought he had scored United’s first goal in the 81st minute, but his goal following a corner was ruled out for offside. Nemanja Matic’s shot may have been creeping into the bottom corner anyway, but the linesman’s flag went up as soon as Pogba got involved in play to poke the ball home. It was the closest United would come, and the last several minutes played out without much in the way of genuine chances.