Monday, December 18, 2017

Prediction: Southampton vs Manchester United

The Saints have shown some improvement after the disappointing start, but they need to continue with strong performances if they are to climb to the top half of the standings. Manchester United, on the other hand, were unable to build on the derby win over Liverpool having suffered a Champions League loss to PSV Eindhoven in a match that saw Luke Shaw suffer a double leg break that means this season is over for him.

In spite of selling a number of key players prior to the last season, Southampton were able to exceed expectations and secure European qualification through league finish. However, the Saints missed the opportunity to make it to Europa League group stages, having suffered a surprising defeat to Danish champions Midtjylland. That could prove a blessing in disguise in the long run seeing that Southampton can now fully focus on domestic competitions, and they were already able to show some improvement after the disappointing start. The 3-0 home win over Norwich was followed by goalless draw at the Hawthorns, and manager Ronald Koeman must have been happy to see his side keep a third clean sheet in four games. But, having failed to score in three of last four matches, the Saints clearly have room for improvement up front, and there is every chance Sadio Mane will be recalled to the side after he was left out of the starting line-up for the West Brom game. Southampton will once again attempt to keep things tight at the back and wait for their chance to hit their more illustrious opponents on the break.

Manchester United are still trying to find consistency needed to mount a serious title challenge, but the good news is that only local rivals Manchester City have done better in the first five rounds when they comes to sides expected to fight for the Premier League title. The Red Devils produced a perfect response to the 2-1 defeat to Swansea at Liberty Stadium, beating arch rivals Liverpool 3-1 in a match that saw summer recruit Anthony Martial score on his debut. However, the midweek game against PSV Eindhoven proved disappointing on more levels than one, with United not only losing the game, but also staying without Luke Shaw for the remainder of the season. While everybody at the club was shocked to see the England international suffer a double leg break, his absence is unlikely to prove such a major issue given that Marcos Rojo is ready to deputize. Louis van Gaal should have Wayne Rooney back to the side after he missed the game at Phillips Stadium, with Anthony Martial expected to make way after an under-par performance in Eindhoven.

Conclusion

Both Southampton and Manchester United have failed to find any consistency this season and we could see another game with chances few and far between. And with both sides facing problems in the attacking department, betting on under 2.5 goals looks the logical option.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: bet365

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