Manchester United will be looking to make it back-to-back wins at the start of their 2021-22 Premier League season when they head to St Mary's on Sunday afternoon (3:00PM, 22 Aug, Nigerian Time) to face Southampton.
The Red Devils opened their campaign with a 5-1 home victory over Leeds United last weekend, while Southampton suffered a 3-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park in their first game of the season.
Southampton are in their 10th straight season at this level of football, but the team's recent finishes in England's top flight will be concerning to the club's supporters, especially during a summer where a couple of extremely important players have left in search of pastures new.
The Saints have finished 17th, 16th and 15th in three of their last four campaigns, and their form in the second half of last season was particularly troubling; it was actually their results in the first half of 2020-21 that allowed them to stay out of relegation trouble heading into the final straight.
Money has been spent on the likes of Adam Armstrong and Romain Perraud, but Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard - two vital players for the club - have left for Aston Villa and Leicester City respectively.
Armstrong was on the scoresheet in Southampton's 2021-22 opener against Everton last weekend, but the Toffees responded with three second-half goals to record a 3-1 win, meaning that confidence will not exactly be flowing in the squad ahead of the clash with Man United.
Ralph Hasenhuttl's side have a busy end to the month, as they will take on Newport County in the EFL Cup on August 25 before travelling to Newcastle United in the Premier League three days later, and it will be fascinating to see how the season unfolds for the Hampshire outfit.
Man United, meanwhile, sent out a message in their season opener last weekend, with Bruno Fernandes netting three times in a 5-1 victory over Leeds, while Mason Greenwood and Fred were also on the scoresheet.
Paul Pogba came up with four assists in a match where Jadon Sancho made his debut, and it was the perfect start to the season for the 20-time English champions, who announced Raphael Varane ahead of kickoff against the Whites, and the Frenchman is now in contention to make his first appearance this weekend.
Man United finished last season without any silverware, but they made the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, semi-finals of the EFL Cup and final of the Europa League, while there was progress in the league, finishing second, albeit 12 points behind the champions Manchester City.
The Red Devils will know that a strong start is required if they are to be serious challengers for the title, and their next five in the league after this one are against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Aston Villa and Everton, before a trip to Leicester City in the middle of October.
Man United's away form last season was excellent, remaining unbeaten across 19 matches, picking up 43 points in the process, while they have not been beaten on the road in the Premier League since January 2020 against Liverpool, which is a staggering record.
Southampton will again be without the services of Sam McQueen and William Smallbone through injury, but the Saints are otherwise in excellent shape in terms of available players.
Armstrong scored on his debut against Everton, and Hasenhuttl hinted that the striker will again be in the XI when addressing the media during Friday's pre-match press conference.
James Ward-Prowse, fresh from signing a new long-term contract, will continue in the middle of the park, while Che Adams, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Djenepo are all expected to be in the first XI.
Kyle Walker-Peters was an unused substitute against Everton last weekend but could come into the side for the clash with the 20-time English champions.
Man United, meanwhile, remain without the services of Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles and Dean Henderson, while Phil Jones is unlikely to be involved despite featuring in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Burnley earlier this week.
Jesse Lingard is in contention, though, having recovered from coronavirus, while Edinson Cavani is back training with the club and could potentially be named in the squad.
Solskjaer has hinted that Varane will travel to St Mary's, but Victor Lindelof could ultimately keep his spot alongside Harry Maguire in the middle of the defence.
Sancho is in line for his full debut, having appeared off the bench against Leeds, and there is a strong chance that the England international for Daniel James will be the only alteration from the XI that started against the Whites.
Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Djenepo; Armstrong, Adams
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Sancho, Fernandes, Pogba; Greenwood
Southampton are more than capable of making this a tricky match for Man United, but we are finding it difficult to back against the visitors taking everything into consideration. Solskjaer's side will be flying after hitting five against Leeds and should have too much for the Saints on Sunday afternoon.
(This article is from Sports Mole. If there is any infringement, please contact us to delete it.)