Southampton are the latest team to go up against Manchester United and Jose Mourinho’s will not only be looking for goals but they will be looking to get more than what their crosstown rivals City due to the quirk which sees them now sit second in the Premier League.
That tiebreaker quite simply being alphabetical order. There is nothing else that can split the two clubs apart, whether or not this is a precursor for the end of the season I am not sure but you already get the feeling that it will be these two clubs pushing each other all the way come the final furlong next May.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton side ruined Roy Hodgson’s homecoming parade last Saturday afternoon at Selhurst Park with a 1-0 win. The game’s only goal came early on in the encounter as Steven Davis managed to find the only gap available as Joel Ward failed to clear off the line.
It was not a pretty goal and it almost summed up the kind of luck Palace have been having this season, although you could also say that their luck was definitely not in when Fraser Forster made not one but two point blank saves from Christian Benteke to make sure that the Saints went back to Hampshire with all three points.
It was a win that sees Southampton sit in the relative comfort of ninth place in the Premier League table which is a fair representation of their early season performances. They perhaps have rightly been criticised for not scoring enough goals but Mauricio Pellegrino will have few complaints with the points tally that they have accrued.
His counterpart this afternoon Jose Mourinho can have very few complaints about his own team especially as they made such light work of Everton last weekend. It was another four goal haul so early in the campaign as they almost shattered the Toffee’s top six aspirations in one solitary afternoon.
After receiving their first real test of the season against Stoke the week before, an encounter which saw them lose their one hundred percent record they bounced back in the best possible way. Once again it was another raft of late goals which showed this team is firing on all cylinders from minute one to minute ninety.
And with Manchester City scoring goals by the bucket load you get the feeling that they will not just be able to sit a one nil lead this campaign in a bid to just earn the points, they are going to have to win points and win them emphatically.
That is exactly what they did against Everton with another trio of goals being scored in the last ten minutes, just like in the Swansea where they turned the screw on their opposition and put an exclamation mark on the result. The only difference you could argue is that the scoreline against Swansea slightly flattered them.
But their could be no such case against them last Sunday. Antonio Valencia’s sensational fourth minute volley almost killed the game off their and then as Everton were nothing but a non entity as Wayne Rooney made a dour return to Old Trafford.
United have brushed aside West Ham, Swansea and Everton with four goal hauls in each game to put that into context Southampton have scored just four all season. Where the Saints are averaging 0.8 goals per game, United are averaging 3.2. Ominous reading if you are Southampton fan.
Southampton at the same time have only conceded four goals this season and their defensive unit is going to have to be at their absolute best this afternoon if they are to keep this Red juggernaut quiet. Unfortunately for them I cannot see it being the case. I’ll put my money on an away win later today.
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) September 22, 2017