MAN UTD travel to Southampton on Sunday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Southampton vs Manchester United| Sunday 22nd August 2021, 14:00 | Sky Sports
The omens do not look good for Southampton ahead of this clash having started this season just as they have done in the previous two, with an away defeat.
Those losses, 3-0 at Burnley and 1-0 to Crystal Palace last season, were followed up with disappointment in their home curtain raisers, no disgrace in a narrow 2-1 reversal to eventual champions Liverpool in 2019/20 but a horror show last year after taking the lead against a Spurs side who ran out eventual 5-2 winners despite having two further strikes disallowed.
Avoiding anything like a repeat of that performance has not been helped with Ralph Hasenhuttl losing half of his starting back-four to Leicester following the departures of both Ryan Bertrand and Jannik Vestergaard to the King Power while the loss of the scorer of both Saints goals that day Danny Ings, although inevitable, was a massive blow.
Ings’ replacement, Adam Armstrong, at least made a positive first impression with his goal on debut giving his new side the lead which they took in to the break at Goodison Park last weekend, but there followed an all too familiar second-half collapse.
New season maybe, but a continuation of old form which saw Southampton pick up just 14 points from their final 21 EPL games last term and with the 3-1 defeat to Everton added to that, gives a terrifying points per game average of just 0.63 which if continued will give a final tally of 24 and lead to certain relegation.
Therefore, the last team they want to see rolling in to St. Mary’s is the leaders of the embryonic Premier League table, Manchester United.
Not only did the Red Devils put on an exhilarating display in their 5-1 thrashing of Leeds, with Bruno Fernandes bagging his club’s first opening day hat-trick since Lou Macari’s treble against Birmingham in 1977, they bring a phenomenal away record to the South Coast.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer guided his side unbeaten on the road in the league last season stretching that run to an incredible 26 EPL away games, last tasting defeat on the 19th January 2020 in a 2-0 loss at Anfield, and in that time securing 60 points, conceding just 18 goals with a goal difference of +29.
Last weekend’s win at Old Trafford was their joint biggest opening day win in the EPL, matching the 5-1 hiding handed out to Fulham in season 2006/07, when they went on to secure the title and although they finished second last term, they will certainly be looking to conclude this term with more than the 74 points with which they claimed that spot.
Having added Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho this summer to a squad already containing the likes of the aforementioned Fernandes, Harry Maguire, and Paul Pogba who showcased his talent with four assists against Bielsa’s men, the expectation must be now to put together a serious, sustained challenge.
Furthermore, Manchester United are undefeated in their last 13 away matches in all competitions against Southampton, who have now gone 10 league games since they last kept a home clean sheet and I think we should see more goals here.
We have seen over 2.5 goals on five of the last six occasions in all competitions when the Red Devils have visited St. Marys and the same statistic in their last six EPL fixtures, they have also scored at least twice in five of their last six meetings with the Saints.
There could be an argument for saying Southampton maybe the only side where having fans back in stadiums could have a detrimental effect on the team as we may see them more reluctant to sit deep and contain their visitors.
Playing Hassenhutl’s preferred two up top can leave them overrun and exposed – and one team who have the players to most exploit that is Manchester United who seem much happier and threatening when able to adopt a counter attacking style.
A straight up Manchester United win is a best priced 1.65 – however add in over 2.5 goals to the mix and we get a much more appetising 11/8 – and even though that price has been falling all week since identifying it as my main pick it is one that I am still happy to advise.
Off the back of that opening day Bruno Fernandes hat-trick, I also have to play the Portuguese star to find the back of the net again here.
The 26-year-old totalled a very impressive 18 league goals last season, helped along by taking 9 and scoring 8 of the 10 penalties his side were awarded, so in the knowledge if we see referee Craig Pawson give a spot kick for the visitors, Fernandes will be the man stepping up, with confidence sky high and in red hot form I was surprised to be able to take this bet at the odds against quote of 5/4 with William Hill.
Odds of 21/4 with Bet Victor for Fernades to score a penalty aren’t appealing enough for me – and would rather go down the multi goal route (15/2 for a brace with William Hill) or to score and assist (6/1 with Unibet) if you are looking for slightly larger odds.
Southampton vs Manchester United – Manchester United to win and Over 2.5 Goals (11/8 Sky Bet)
Southampton vs Manchester United – Bruno Fernandes to score at any time (5/4 William Hill)