Another tough test for Southampton sees them host Manchester United at the St. Mary’s Stadium in a game that will go to show whether they have enough quality to stay in the Premier League. For United, the game is about victory in Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1,000th in charge of a league fixture.
The Saints were impressive away at Manchester City on the opening day, but were poor against Wigan at home last weekend and their home form will be vital this season. Nigel Adkins has worked wonders to bring a side from the brink of administration to the Premier League in just three years, but the Saints boss will be concerned at the struggle his side will face.
Adkins has two new signings at his disposal with striker Emmanuel Mayuka and Maya Yoshida ready to make their debuts against United after moving from BSC Young Boys and VVV-Venlo respectively. Southampton have also smashed their club record transfer fee for Bologna midfielder Gaston Ramirez, forking out £12m for the highly-rated Uruguayan. There will be sour memories for Saints fans for their fixture with United, after they were relegated in 2005 following a defeat to Ferguson’s side on the final day of the season.
United will be keen to replicate that victory on Sunday, as they look to grab their 20th league title and stop Manchester City from winning back-to-back successes. Ferguson’s special day will be a touching moment for the United squad, who he has built himself to astonishing acclaim. The United boss has created a legacy at Old Trafford and is not prepared to let that slip away to City.
The Scotsman brought in Robin van Persie from Arsenal for £24m and the Dutchman scored on his Old Trafford debut last weekend in the 3-2 victory over Fulham. With Wayne Rooney out injured following a gash to his thigh, Van Persie is expected to lead the line once again at St. Mary’s. One positive for United is the return to fitness of Jonny Evans, who is expected to start alongside Nemanja Vidic. Evans played a full 90 minutes in the reserve game with Tottenham on Tuesday and will be a welcome boost for Ferguson after injuries to Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand already this summer.
A raucous atmosphere will greet United on the South Coast and Southampton will be keen to get their first three points of the season. They will find it difficult against United, who have showed great form going forward so far, but have been shaky defensively. Southampton will look to try and trouble United, but the addition of Jonny Evans to the defence will help Ferguson’s side massively.