Manchester United can go back into the top four if the results go their way when they face Southampton at Old Trafford in the afternoon kick off.
The Red Devil’s will be confident since their away win at Liverpool and claimed all three points when Rooney slotted a rebound off the cross bar. It was a fortune win where United were second and Liverpool were left feeling robbed but that’s football and rivalry for you. With the target to still be challenge for UEFA Champions League places, the top four is racing up with potentially the spaces being opened to any of the top five sides in the league.
United are on a four games unbeaten run since Rooney has been scoring and the New Year has definitely got him some lucky boots. If Van Gaal is seriously aiming to have go at the title then results against sides like Southampton are needed to steer towards the challenge. You have Leicester City with the surprise in form this season and the recent challengers Arsenal and Man City in the mix. Although, Tottenham are starting to work well by gaining important results.
Ronald Koeman has welcomed new signing Charlie Austin in the January transfer window and he hopes to hand him his debut. This will be handy as Saint’s could be without Pelle through an ongoing knee problem. Southampton are currently seven points behind United and will be looking to make it three successive wins in the league since two wins against West Brom and Watford.
Van Gaal will be without versatile player Ashley Young who has a severe groin injury and requires surgery and lengthy time out off the field. Schweinsteiger, Carrick, Jones, Valencia, Shaw and Rojo remain out. Pelle is a doubt for Saint’s through knee problem and Rodriguez and Gardos are sidelined through respective injuries.
The last time these two teams played at Old Trafford, it took a winner from Tadic for Southampton to walk away with all three points. Despite both having the chances, it was United who were left disappointed. The worrying aspect to United right now is that they have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last eight league meetings so the defence will need to be tightened. However, the performance against Liverpool showed how much reliance they have by keeping midfielders away. Again, it has to be said Memphis and Januzaj need playing time and they are the width to provide in attack. Lingard had a good run of games and then got injured. So United fans will want to see their best players out at the Theatre of Dreams.
Possible starting XI:
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Fellaini, Schneiderlin, Mata, Herrera, Martial, Rooney.
Southampton; Forster, Soares, van Dikj, Fonte, Bertrand, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Mane, S. Davis, Tadic, Austin.