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Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Southampton

Oct 17, 2013, 2:52 PM EDT

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images
  • Manchester United have not lost successive Barclays Premier League home games since May 8, 2002
  • Southampton have conceded just two goals in their seven Barclays Premier League games in 2013-14; fewer than any other side
  • 24 different players have started a Premier League match for Manchester United this season; more than any other side

High-flying Southampton head to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United this Saturday (9:45 am ET on NBCSN, watch live via NBC Sports Live Extra) as David Moyes‘ side looks to avoid consecutive home losses for the first time since 2002.

Moyes’ men return from international break looking to set things right for the home fans after the 2-1 loss they suffered at the hands of West Bromwich Albion on September 28th. That loss was their second straight following the 4-1 drubbing they were dealt by rivals Manchester City during this fall’s derby.

United managed to bounce back from the Albion loss with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on October 5th. That match marked the coming out party for 18-year-old prodigy Adnan Januzaj, who scored two stunning strikes to give the Red Devils a much needed three points.

Since then Januzaj has become the hot topic among fans in England who hope the Belgian-born player spurns a handful of other options to play for the Three Lions. How much he’ll play for United, however, is the pertinent question this weekend. Fans will hope to see him on the pitch but given Moyes’ history of being cautious with young players, supporters may do well to temper their expectations.

In Januzaj, United have a player who can both create and score goals. Physically underdeveloped, Januzaj overcomes defenders with a silky touch, quick bursts of speed and an ability to find space where little seems to exist. While the winger will be available for selection, Tom Cleverley remains a fitness worry after he withdrew from England duty with a calf problem. If he can’t go, expect Marouane Fellaini to partner Michael Carrick in the center of the park. Rio Ferdinand is also available to play after a bout on the sidelines with a groin injury.

Southampton enter the match red hot, riding a four match unbeaten streak (including three straight victories) that has seen the Saints climb to 4th in the table. Since a 1-0 loss to Norwich on August 31st, the Saints have not conceded a single goal.

The streak began against West Ham United in a 0-0 draw. From there, the offense picked itself up beating Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield before scalping Crystal Palace and Swansea City by identical scores of 2-0. History, however, is against Southampton at Old Trafford where they’ve only taken one point from 14 Premier League matches.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s defense has been boosted by Croatian hard man Dejan Lovren, his partnership with Jose Fonte, and strong, young full-backs in Luke Shaw, Nathaniel Clyne and Callum Chambers. They’ll be faced with quite the task in containing the likes of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who will be eager to prove their strike partnership is just as good as everyone’s favorite duo, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.

Polish netminder Artur Boruc missed his country’s 2-0 defeat against England at Wembley on Tuesday night with a hamstring injury but should be fit to play, while Luke Shaw, who missed the Swansea game through illness, is also available for selection.

A victory for the Saints could send them to the top of the standings while a United win could see them climb as high as 6th in the table.

Check out whether Southampton can keep their streak alive or whether United can regain its home form this Saturday, at 9:45 am ET live on NBC and online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

What They’re Saying 

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs: “I am enjoying working with the new manager. I would prefer better results but we are only seven or eight games into the season.”

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: “I think all games in the Premier League are exciting, and this is a very good chance for us to show what we can do as a team. . . It’s going to be very difficult but we are going there with a positive mentality. . . I think both teams have changed since we last played them and I am very happy with how the squad is performing these days.”

Prediction

United are heavy favorites but they’ve done little to prove why that should be the case. Southampton are healthy and seem to have a real level-headedness to their football. I think the Saints go into Old Trafford and earn themselves a point.

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