Manchester United will continue their Premier League campaign against Southampton at St Mary’s this Saturday. The sixth round match will see two quite different teams going head to head in a replay of EFL Cup final seven months ago.
Manchester United sit top of the table together with Manchester City while Southampton are safe and sound in ninth place. Mauricio Pellegrino’s team have shown different faces this season, winning just eight points from a favourable fixture list.
Only two wins of the season came against struggling West Ham and Crystal Palace, while the hopes of another cup final are already gone. Wolverhampton Wonderers won 2-0 at Southampton in EFL Cup second round.
Goals Simply Not Happening
So, what is the main problem of Manchester United’s next opponent? Simply, goals. They do not really score that many of them. Opposite to Man United, Southampton have been really struggling in this department. They scored four goals in five matches and three of them were in a single match.
Southampton really did well to earn eight points with such scoring struggles. Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond have been quiet most of the time. Pellegrino often chooses between different strikers in starting XI, trying to find a solution.
However, he is still far from it. The team scored only against West Ham in last eight home Premier League matches. Include EFL Cup loss to Wolves into equation and you will see something is terribly wrong in the final third.
Scoring Less, Conceding Less
Southampton have been underscoring so far this season. Based on the average quality of their chances, the Saints were expected to score between six and seven goals this season (xG). However, their poor finishing from good positions was detrimental.
This could mean Southampton will soon start scoring if their attacking players find their form and this was all just a prolonged dip in form. Or, it could be that their attacking players simply do not have the necessary quality to score goals on regular basis.
Only Crystal Palace and Liverpool are the teams that have underscored on a greater scale than Southampton. The Merseyside team were to score three goals more than they did, while Palace were expected to score six. They still have not scored once.
However, to be fair to Southampton, they also conceded less goals than it was expected (xGA – expected goals against). The difference is on a similar scale to xG difference previously mentioned.
Southampton To Struggle
All of this should mean Southampton are to really struggle against Manchester United. Jose Mourinho’s team has been scoring goals like they have not in many years. As if 16 Premier League goals was not enough, Manchester United scored four against Burton Albion in EFL Cup and three against Basel in Champions League.
The only team this season conceding less than two goals against Manchester United was Real Madrid. This really speaks volumes.
Man United should do well defensively away from home, unlike against Stoke. Southampton seem clueless going forwards and with Nemanja Matic shielding defence in form of his life, Manchester United should prosper in the final third. Romelu Lukaku is well rested, while both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are eager to show their capabilities.