Date: 20th August 2021 at 6:22pm
Written by:

Manchester United cruised to a 5-1 victory over rivals Leeds United on the opening weekend of the Premier League, and sent out a message of real intent to their title rivals in doing so. 

Bruno Fernandes netted a hat-trick in the win, while Paul Pogba exceeded his tally of assists from the entirety of last season, setting up four goals for his teammates at Old Trafford.

Next up for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is a visit to Southampton on Sunday afternoon, hoping to make it two from two at the start of the new season.

United’s impressive performance last weekend will likely have given Solskjaer plenty to think about ahead of the clash with the Saints.

Pogba was imperious against Leeds.

New signing Jadon Sancho made his debut off the bench against Leeds and will be hoping to go one better on Sunday, while fellow new boy Raphael Varane will face a race to be fit in time for the match.

Here is how we think United could line up in their first away game of the season…

Goalkeeper

Despite reportedly falling to second choice in the pecking order at Old Trafford, David de Gea started against Leeds and, despite conceding a spectacular Luke Ayling strike in the first half, had very little else to do. The Spaniard can expect to remain between the sticks against Southampton as fellow ‘keeper Dean Henderson remains a doubt after an injury that ended his Euro 2020 prematurely.

Defenders

Aaron Wan-Bissaka will start at right-back having played in all but five of the club’s last forty league games. The Englishman scored one of his two Premier League goals against the Saints last term, and will look to put in a strong performance once again. Swedish defender Victor Lindelof may have felt a sense of frustration at the news of Varane’s signing, but he impressed against Leeds and will likely partner Harry Maguire as the Frenchman works to regain full fitness. Eric Bailly is still short of match fitness, and would be unlikely to have started the game regardless. England left-back Luke Shaw will be given the nod next to his fellow countryman Maguire, having impressed both last season and during the Euros. Alex Telles remains sidelined with an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out of action until after the international break.

Midfielders

Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay will likely start at the heart of United’s midfield after playing just over an hour against Leeds. Fred can expect to partner him ahead of Nemanja Matic, who appears to have fallen behind the pair in the pecking order. Fresh from an opening day hat-trick, Bruno Fernandes will occupy the advanced midfield role, hoping to extend his early lead at the top of the goalscoring charts. Veteran midfielder Juan Mata and out of favour Donny van de Beek will both have to settle for places on the bench, with the latter hopeful of featuring at some point.

Forwards

Sancho could be handed his full debut for Manchester United this weekend.

New signing Jadon Sancho looks set to make his first start for the club, having been introduced as a second-half substitute against Leeds. The former Borussia Dortmund winger will be looking to make an instant impact and the Saints’ often fragile defence could provide the perfect opportunity for him to do so. Dan James may have to revert back to the bench after starting the opening game, while Mason Greenwood will likely be chosen to lead the line ahead of Anthony Martial, who is yet to start a competitive game since returning from injury. Veteran striker Edinson Cavani, meanwhile, is still short of fitness having returned to training late and will not feature against Southampton. On the other side, Paul Pogba, who was unlucky not to win the man of the match award last time out after being upstaged by Fernandes’ hat-trick, will once again be deployed in a wide role. The Frenchman has excelled in the wider role of late, and will hope to add to his tally of assists from last time out. Marcus Rashford remains sidelined after having surgery on a shoulder injury and may not return before the middle of October.

Manchester United Predicted XI vs Leeds: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Fernandes; Pogba, Sancho, Greenwood.

With his side having performed so well last time out, Solskjaer may be reluctant to make any alterations ahead of the visit to St. Mary’s, however the opportunity to deploy Sancho against a Saints backline that conceded three times against Everton last weekend may prove too tempting.

 
Brought to you by Shoot!