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Turning the corner
Manchester United travel to St. Mary’s Stadium Sunday to face a very strong Southampton side.
They’ll need to maintain that strong form against a Southampton team that’s proven to be a strong contender this season.
Solskjaer likely won’t have Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay available as neither one trained with the team Friday.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl doesn’t have any fresh injuries to report but will have to contend with the loss of one key player.
That key player being Danny Ings the club’s leading goal scorer with five goals in seven Premier League contests.
Ings has completed knee surgery but won’t be ready in time for Sunday’s game.
Midfielder Nathan Redmond missed Monday’s game against Wolves with a hamstring injury and it’s unknown if he can play come Sunday.
Both these teams will be full of confidence this weekend.
United’s won three straight across all competitions while the Saints haven’t lost in their last seven.
Southampton has been the model of consistency this season having collected 17 out of a possible 27 points in the Premier League.
Those points are the reason they’re currently fifth and United are 11th.
United’s biggest flaw under Solskjaer has been an inability to stay consistent for long spells.
Home and Away
Both teams will fancy their chances of earning three points Sunday given their records at home and away recently.
The Saints have won their last three matches at St. Mary’s stadium winning each game by a score of 2-0.
United’s been very strong away from home in the Premier League with seven consecutive victories.
A win on Sunday would mark the first time ever a United squad’s won eight straight on the road.
One area United’s improved on tremendously is on defense.
Since conceding six against Tottenham the Reds have been the most defensively sound team in the Premier League.
They’ve conceded the fewest goals of any EPL squad since that time (3) and faced the fewest amount of shots (34).
Paying a penalty
One thing the Saints will need to watch out for is their tackles.
Southampton averages the second-most fouls per game in the Premier League (13.3).
Only Brighton at 13.8 averages more.
That’s a concern given that United’s gotten a league-high 18 spot-kicks since the start of last season.
19 of the Reds 115 goals scored since Solskjaer became manager came from the penalty spot.
That’s a 16.5% ratio, tied for highest with Crystal Palace under Roy Hodgson.
If we look at the recent history of these teams United have the decided edge.
The Saints are winless in their last eight Premier League matches with United going back to January 2016.
United hasn’t lost in their last nine visits to St. Mary’s stadium.
They’ve come from behind to beat Southampton nine times, second for them only to Newcastle.
The likely replacement for Danny Ings is Theo Walcott.
The veteran has an impressive track record against United with three goals against them and all on a different pitch (Old Trafford, Emirates, Goodison Park).
Since the start of the season, the player to watch for United has been Bruno Fernandes.
The Portuguese midfielder’s been involved in more Premier League goals than any other in the competition (24, with 14 goals and 10 assists).
Only City’s Kevin De Bruyne’s created more chances in the league this season than Fernandes.
The Belgian’s created 74 chances while Fernandes has 56.
Fernandes timing has been impeccable this season scoring the winner in all four of United’s Premier League victories.
That’s more match-winners than any player in the league this season.
Sunday’s game from St. Mary’s stadium kicks off at 2 pm. (JSL)