Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s comments to Manchester United’s official website following the 3-0 victory over Aston Villa suggest he knows the next fixture against Southampton will provide a tricky test.
He said: “That’s going to be a hard game against a Southampton team that probably runs the most in the Premier League. If there’s one thing I don’t want to see, it’s my team being outworked.”
It’s not just hard work and enterprise which makes the Saints dangerous opponents on Monday night.
The reverse fixture
United limped to a 1-1 defeat against Southampton back in August, when a Dan James goal was cancelled out by Jannik Vestergaard’s second half header.
Of course United are a different side now, but so are the Saints. Much has been made of the way they have turned things around since the 9-0 humbling at the hands of Leicester and Ralph Hasenhuttl deserves great credit.
United needed a late Romelu Lukaku winner to clinch all three points in the corresponding fixture last season and have drawn as often as they’ve won against the Saints in the teams’ last eight meetings.
Just ask City
Southampton pulled off arguably the most impressive Premier League defensive performance since lockdown in beating Manchester City 1-0 last Sunday.
If United again cede the initiative in the same way they did in the opening 25 minutes at Villa Park, they could find themselves behind.
Southampton have proved themselves adept at defending a lead and are clearly willing to put their bodies on the line.
Solskjaer is right to warn United that they need to work hard.
Strong away form
Southampton would be fifth in the Premier League table if only away results counted, four points and two places above United.
Their high-tempo style appears to lend itself well to getting results on the road and United will have to be wary.
As Solskjaer says, United need to match that work-rate and tempo – something they didn’t do until after the drinks break at Villa – to continue their winning run.
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