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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Southampton

The Reds must get back to winning ways against injury-ravaged Southampton

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s match:

(1) On Saturday, Manchester United drew 0-0 against Arsenal. That scoreline has been a common one for the Reds against the big six this season, though this match held a great deal more excitement than some of the others. United looked much improved after that shock defeat to Sheffield United, but were let down by poor finishing in front of goal. Arsenal, too, must feel disappointed. An Alexandre Lacazette free kick struck the crossbar with David De Gea rooted to his spot.

(2) Paul Scholes on Manchester United’s struggles in big games:

[Manchester United] can’t seem to win those games. When you’re struggling against Sheffield United the other night, you’re beaten by them and then you come to a big game, they just can’t win them. They just can’t find a way of doing it. Bruno Fernandes has been disappointing in every single one of them. He’s had great numbers, great assists, great goals. In the last five games against big teams, he’s had no goals, no assists. It’s really worrying and that’s why United are where they’re at. They’re in a good position tonight, but it’s not a position where you think: “This team will go on to win the league.”

(3) Perhaps the biggest problem with United’s paltry return against the big six is that it leaves them with no margin for error in matches like these. The Reds must defeat Southampton on Tuesday to keep pace with Manchester City at the top. While a draw at the Emirates is decent enough, it’s just more dropped points in a week where Liverpool, West Ham, and Chelsea all drew closer from down below.

(4) Some Manchester United outgoings over the last few days:

(5) Injury update: Scott McTominay left the Arsenal match in the first half with stomach cramps. No updates yet on his availability for Tuesday.

(6) Southampton, on the other hand, face a much graver injury situation. Probably worse than any other club in the Premier League. The Saints were already missing key defender Jannik Vestergaard, Kyle Walker-Peters, and Moussa Djenepo — before Ibrahima Diallo, Oriol Romeu (himself just back from injury), and Theo Walcott all limped off at the weekend. Making matters even worse, the club’s recovery facilities at its Staplewood training center are closed due to Covid-19, which has undoubtedly hampered the rehab process.

(7) Ralph Hasenhuttl on Southampton’s injury crisis:

Like always, they are muscle injuries. This is strange and what’s worrying me the most, to be honest, that as soon as players are coming back, others are out. We are having a really bad run at the moment. We must have a look at what is the reason, because it’s strange.

(8) Not surprisingly, Southampton have won just one of their last eight league matches. On Saturday, the Saints lost 1-0 to Aston Villa to leave them in 11th place on 29 points. The story of the match, though, was two dubious VAR decisions — including one that ruled out a Danny Ings equalizer — that robbed them of any points. According to xG, Southampton led 2.51 to 0.86.

(9) Despite all of that, Hasenhuttl’s side remains dangerous. They’re one of the best in Europe from set pieces, with captain James Ward-Prowse a danger from anywhere within shooting range. Manchester United know that well, as he picked up a goal and an assist from set pieces in the first match at St. Mary’s. Plus, Southampton have both Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond back in attack. Plenty of Southampton standouts will be sidelined on Tuesday, but there should be enough in the lineup to keep United on their toes.

(10) It’s been a tumultuous season for most Premier League clubs, but the congested fixture list has done a real number on Hasenhuttl’s Saints. Typically a devotee of aggressive pressing and high defensive lines, the Austrian manager has had to set his side up deeper and rein in the press a bit because of the limited recovery and training time in between matches.

(11) With the transfer window open until Monday night, Southampton are desperately seeking reinforcements to make up the numbers in their injury-plagued squad. At this hour, their best bet looks to be Ashley Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal. The 23-year-old could fill in at fullback, as well as in his preferred midfield position.