With four wins on the trot, Louis van Gaal is slowly settling in to life at Old Trafford. Manchester United now travel to St Mary’s to face un-expected top four challenger Southampton on Monday night where victory for the visitors will see them secure the third spot in the Premier League, still five points behind derby rivals Manchester City.
It seems like the players are slowly starting to adapt to Van Gaal’s philosophy, as they’ve shown great characters in grinding out results as well, even when not playing at their best. United have used their home advantage to its full effect, winning six of eight matches at Old Trafford, drawing the other one.
United’s season has been badly hampered by series of injuries to key players. Angel di Maria, the club’s record signing transfer, who faces a race to fit in time against the Saints, therefore is unlikely to be used on Monday night.
Val Gaal insists that Colombian striker Radamel Falcao is not the best of physical shape to play 90 minutes of football, and will be used as a bit-part role again for the time being. Falcao was used as a second-half replacement against Stoke City and has failed to add to the one goal he scored back in September.
However, skipper Wayne Rooney is back, and is expected to lead the line alongside Robin van Persie. Juan Mata, who scored the winner against Stoke City, should retain his place in the side.
There is famously no love lost between both the managers, after the pair fell out at Ajax in 2004, but Van Gaal refused to comment on that subject. He said, via The Guardian:
“You are reading that in the papers. But, no, I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you asking the question for the fourth time when I have given a clear answer. Why? Why? It is only your interest to ask.”
Full back Rafael has been training with the squad but the game may have come too soon for him. Evans, Blind, Shaw, and Jones all expected to be sidelined but the later returned to training and should be ready to play within couple of weeks.
Manchester United have an impressive record against the Saints, having remained undefeated in their last 10 games in all competitions.
After an impressive start to the season, Southampton are now without a win in three, and therefore despite being having an upper-hand in playing in front of home, United are riding with momentum at the momentum at the moment and will start as favourites for this game.
Southampton vs Manchester United prediction: 1-2