As much as I dislike Manchester United football club, there is a strange sense of enjoyment at them returning to some form of success particularly when that success is built on attacking football. Perhaps it's because I grew up in the 1990s when the Premier League was dominated by United sides famed for their forward lines and I'm looking for some kind of normality in these strange times.

Since the re-start United have been pretty unstoppable, winning all but their opening game at Spurs, netting 15 goals in 5 games and progressing to an FA Cup Semi-Final. Just 6 months ago the wolves were very much at the door of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he struggled to get a United side that had lost its identity long before he arrived back into any sort of groove. Now, the side are a win away from usurping Chelsea in the Champions League race before they play the same opposition at the weekend for a place at Wembley. It's fair to say that Solskjaer is now meeting if not exceeding expectations.

At the same time, there is still a lot of work for this United team to do. Their recent scorelines have been more flattering against opposition in the bottom 6 and all 3 of their last wins in the league have come against teams fighting relegation with their progress in the cup coming at the expense of bottom-placed Norwich. I would expect Southampton to put up much sterner resistance this evening and really test the improvements in this United team.

Southampton have been particularly impressive on their travels this season and despite sitting 12th in the league they have the 4th best away record in 2019/20 with 8 wins to date. That success has generally been a result of a very solid and organised defence which has seen them concede just 23 goals in 17 away games this year but they are equally efficient in front of goal. In fact other than their 1st game of the season way back in August 2019 where they lost 3-0 at Burnley and a 4-0 defeat at Anfield to champions Liverpool, Southampton have scored in all their other away day fixtures this season.

Southampton's chief weapon in that respect is Danny Ings who is the only player with a realistic chance of winning the Golden Boot in this year's Premier League who has a better scoring record away from home. Last time out against Everton, Southampton paired Ings with Che Adams upfront and it will be interesting to see if they are as brave today against a United team that might overwhelm them in midfield if they play a similar formation.

That being said this is also a Southampton team that likes to play and very often beat teams above them in the league with the side already having recorded wins over Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester in the league this season.

I expect United to win this game but I believe that Southampton will give them a run for their money and that they stand a good chance of getting on the score-sheet themselves. United conceded a couple of sloppy goals at Bournemouth recently and there is evidence to suggest they aren't quite as strong at defending set-pieces as you might imagine. In fact, they've conceded 10 times from corners this season which means that on average sides score at better than once every 20 corners they win against United (5.78%). Southampton meanwhile have a couple of set-piece specialists in Ward-Prowse and Bertrand who might challenge United on that front again.

Prediction - BTTS @1.98 or better


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