Manchester United play Southampton away at the Saint Mary’s Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side delivered an impressive performance to start the new campaign off when beating Leeds 5-1 at Old Trafford last weekend and they’ll be hoping to make it two consecutive wins against Southampton, who they enjoyed playing last term.
United won 3-2 away at Southampton last season thanks to an expertly taken, late brace from Edinson Cavani which inspired a comeback, but the result was never in doubt in the reverse fixture when the Reds incredibly won 9-0 against the Saints.
Jadon Sancho made his debut from off the bench against Leeds, however, with Raphael Varane’s transfer having been delayed, the Frenchman was unveiled and had to watch from the stands – the pair are in contention to start on the south coast, though.
But which players will make Solskjaer’s XI against Southampton? Here’s how our MEN writers think United should line up…
Two years ago, United won their opening game by four goals and made one change for their next match, with a right winger coming in. Jadon Sancho for Daniel James is the logical change to the side that thrashed Leeds.
Southampton started their campaign with James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu in midfield, so there is little inclination for United to separate Scott McTominay and Fred. Nine or ten of Saturday’s starters are certain to line up again at St Mary’s, but there is every chance Solskjaer will make a tactical tweak for a team he used a midfield diamond against last season.
Given how well United played on the first weekend of the season it’s clear that significant changes simply aren’t necessary on the south coast.
It would be a surprise if the back four didn’t stay the same. There will be calls for Varane to come in but the fact he didn’t make the squad for Tuesday’s friendly against Burnley suggests he still has a little bit to do fitness-wise before he’s considered for a start.
In midfield the Fred and McTominay axis worked wonderfully against Leeds and it makes sense to continue with it here, with Fernandes once again in the No. 10 role from which he is so dangerous.
The only change I would make comes in the front three, where Sancho should be ready to start after playing an hour against Burnley on Tuesday. He can replace James on the right, with Greenwood still leading the line and Pogba in his hybrid position off the left.
It would often be foolish to suggest Solskjaer needs to make any changes after watching his side saunter to a 5-1 win, but United’s success in this summer’s transfer market means they’re now in an envious position – they have relative strength in depth.
That means full debuts could be handed to Varane and Sancho – the latter came on from off the bench against Leeds – while Pogba can keep the position which should saw him deliver an outstanding display against Leeds, where he recorded four assists.
Greenwood led United’s line with confidence and energy and he can take advantage of the question marks surrounding the hosts’ defence.