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Southampton vs Manchester United – Match Preview

 

These two teams may well have a considerable distance between them in the Premier League table going into this game, at the same time though it is fair to say that this is a must win fixture for the managers of both Southampton and Manchester United. 

For Mark Hughes who leads the Saints into battle this Saturday, it is looking like that he is on borrowed time when it comes to staying in the St Mary’s hotseat. A situation that has only worsened after losing to Fulham last weekend, a tie that many were already deeming a ‘six pointer’ in terms of trying to stave off the threat of relegation.

While could the same be said about Jose Mourinho, even though Manchester United find themselves in the relative safety of seventh in the table going into this fixture. A position that many would be happy to settle for, unfortunately that is not the case for the Red Devils.

For a club of United’s stature lying in seventh is simply not good enough and with every negative result that current manager Jose Mourinho resides over, then the target on his back only seems to get bigger.

Last weekend they were held to another frustrating draw in front of their own fans.This time it was Crystal Palace who managed to turn the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ into something of a nightmare as they held their hosts to a 0-0 draw.

Strangely enough that point actually moved United up the table, but at the same time these draws are almost of the same value as defeats when you consider what their crosstown rivals are doing in the blue half of Manchester.

United now find themselves a staggering 14 points behind the league leaders with only one third of the season in the history books and although there is still a lot of football still to be played there is little to suggest that their performances will improve anytime soon.

To be fair to their opponents Southampton, they did look better even though they lost away to Fulham last Saturday and the fact that they only lost by a solitary goal, may well have just bought their manager Mark Hughes a little more time in charge.

At least as far as this weekend anyway, had they been heavily beaten in West London then that may well have been the impetus for the Southampton owners to roll the dice and look for a new man to take the helm.

As it stands that is all nothing more than conjecture with Hughes’ men starting the weekend in the bottom three. However, with two points separating the bottom six sides at present, then a win will change their outlook completely.

They will take inspiration form the likes of Huddersfield and Newcastle who have finally got their seasons underway after a decent run of form and they know that sooner rather than later they will have to get their own campaign underway.

Neither manager can afford to lose this one as should they do so, it could very well be their last game in charge. The form guide suggests there won’t be many goals, but United might just nick this one and heap more misery on Southampton.

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Saints and Foxes hard to separate at St Marys

 

On Saturday afternoon, Southampton host Leicester at St Marys, as the home side look for their league win of the season.

Southampton have started their Premier League campaign with a draw against Burnley before losing 2-1 at Everton last time out. The Saints have now won just two of their last 14 top-flight games. In fact, the team from the south coast have now won just three times in 27 league outings.

Mark Hughes side has been involved in a number of low scoring games of late in the top-flight, with under 2.5 goals scored in four of their last five league games.

The Saints have struggled for victories on home soil in the Premier League of late, winning just one of their last 12 matches. A big factor in that poor recent home record is their inability to find the net, as the home side has failed to score in four of their last six games on home soil.

However, one positive for the Saints is a decent home record against Leicester, as the home side has lost just one of the last seven games against the Foxes in the top-flight.

Leicester have experienced mixed fortunes in the Premier League so far this season, losing against Manchester United before a 2-0 win over Wolves last time out.

 

The win over Wolves was only their second top-flight victory in nine Premier Leagueoutings. Keeping the opposition from scoring has been a big problem for Leicester in recent Premier League games, as they have conceded at least twice in six of their last nine outings.

 

The Foxes recent away form in the league has been woeful, as the side from the Midlands have suffered four consecutive defeats on their travels in the top-flight.

Sportseconds predicts that these two teams will be hard to separate and that this game will end in a low scoring draw.

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Southampton 1 Huddersfield Town 1: Depoitre earns a point after Austin antics

Laurent Depoitre cancelled out Charlie Austin’s header as Huddersfield Town fought back to earn a 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton on Saturday.

Austin continued his recent good run of form with his fifth goal in seven appearances – and fifth in his last eight outings against the Terriers – but the striker could face retrospective action from the Football Association for a late challenge on visiting goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.

Having nodded the Saints ahead midway through the first half, Austin was perhaps fortunate to escape punishment for drawing blood from Lossl’s nose by leaving his foot in as the Dane gathered a throughball.

Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino invited speculation surrounding Virgil van Dijk’s future by leaving the Netherlands defender out with the January transfer window looming and neither Wesley Hoedt or Maya Yoshida were close enough to Depoitre as he headed a second-half equaliser.

Depoitre’s intervention extended the Saints’ run without a clean sheet to 10 league games and it proved enough for the visitors to claim a valuable point, despite Yoshida giving them a scare by heading against the post in stoppage time.

The last time these two sides met at St Mary’s was a League One fixture in December 2010 but seven years on both clubs head into Christmas as part of a bunched-up bottom half of the top flight, Huddersfield three points ahead after rounding off a strong first half of the season following promotion.

Huddersfield came into the clash full of confidence following their 4-1 thrashing of Watford last week and Aaron Mooy – scorer of two goals in that win – had the first opening here, blocked by Steven Davis.

The visitors went even closer on the quarter-hour mark as Fraser Forster superbly tipped Christopher Schindler’s header onto the crossbar.

Southampton gradually grew into the game and took the lead in the 24th minute as Hoedt headed James Ward-Prowse’s corner goalwards where Austin was left unmarked to stoop and nod in from three yards.

Schindler headed wide from another excellent Florent Hadergjonaj cross before Austin’s coming together with Lossl prompted no action from referee Lee Probert.

After lengthy treatment Lossl was soon called into action again, making a sprawling save at the feet of Dusan Tadic and then scrambling back to keep out Austin’s chip following a charged-down clearance.

Austin ought to have doubled the lead on the hour but after Nathan Redmond rounded Mathias Jorgensen and squared the ball, the striker snatched his effort wide.

And that miss came back to haunt Southampton as within four minutes, substitute Tommy Smith delivered a cross from the right and Depoitre rose unchallenged to head home.

The personal battle between Austin and Lossl continued as, following a shanked clearance, the keeper parried away a fierce drive from the striker, who then limped off with a hamstring problem sustained in the act of shooting.

And Saints’ frustration at seeing their winless run extended to six matches was summed up in the first minute of stoppage time as Yoshida’s header struck the base of the right-hand post, ricocheted off Lossl and away to safety.

Key Opta Stats:

– Southampton have won just one of their last 10 Premier League games (D4 L5) and are winless in their last six (D3 L3).
– Huddersfield have picked up four points from their last two away games in the Premier League, as many as they collected in their first eight in the competition.
– Laurent Depoitre has scored three goals in his last three Premier League games, more than in his previous 13 combined (2).
– Depoitre has scored five goals from just eight shots on target in the Premier League.
– Southampton have lost just one of their last 27 home Premier League games against promoted sides (W17 D9).

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Bournemouth 1 Southampton 1: Austin rescues a point for Saints

Charlie Austin’s seventh goal in his last 10 Premier League starts rescued a point for Southampton, as they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Bournemouth.

Austin’s return to the starting line-up has provided significant dividends for Mauricio Pellegrino, with Sunday’s strike his third goal in as many games.

Southampton posed more of an early threat but Bournemouth were gifted the game’s opening goal as Wesley Hoedt was caught in possession – Ryan Fraser the eventual benefactor as he swept home his first league goal since January.

It was not enough to secure a much-needed home win for Eddie Howe’s side, though, as Southampton came roaring back after the break.

Austin was the man to eventually find a way through, his low strike beating the outstretched hand of Asmir Begovic to continue his fine form in front of goal.

Splitting the two south coast clubs proved impossible in the final 30 minutes, Austin twice going close, but the draw leaving both to settle for a point that sees them climb one place apiece in the table.

It was the visitors who made the early running as Bournemouth took their time to settle, Virgil van Dijk wasting their clearest opening with a poorly directed header from James Ward-Prowse’s corner.

At the other end Fraser Forster initially had little to do but that all changed just before the midway point, the England goalkeeper needing to deny Jermain Defoe and Nathan Ake in quick succession.

Bournemouth felt they should have had a penalty after 31 minutes when Sofiane Boufal appeared to foul Smith, but Jonathan Moss thought differently, the referee booking the latter for simulation.

Begovic’s first save of the encounter came soon after as Ward-Prowse delivered a floated cross for Austin, his bullet header punched away by the Bournemouth keeper.

That proved crucial as the hosts took the lead soon after. Hoedt dawdled in possession and was robbed by Joshua King, the forward rolled the loose ball to Andrew Surman and Fraser duly swept home.

Southampton’s quest to get back into the match began with the introduction of Nathan Redmond at half-time, and he was involved in a slick move that ended with Begovic saving well to deny Boufal.

Redmond – presumably with the words of Pep Guardiola ringing in his ears – continued to pose a threat as Southampton began to dominate.

Crucial interceptions from Ake and Steve Cook initially kept the visitors at bay, but the marking was lacking just after the hour as Redmond found Austin, the striker lashing beyond Begovic.

He was denied a second by the offside flag and crossbar soon after, the 28-year-old turning Van Dijk’s header onto the woodwork from close range.

Bournemouth were far from done, though, with King and Callum Wilson going close to restoring the hosts’ advantage.

Austin missed the chance to be Southampton’s match winner with nine minutes remaining as he headed Ryan Bertrand’s cross over, leaving both sides to settle for a share of the spoils.

Key Opta stats:

– Bournemouth have recorded just one win in their last 10 league meetings with Southampton (W1 D3 L6), winning 2-0 in this exact fixture in March 2016.
– Only West Brom (six) have dropped more points from winning positions in home games than Bournemouth (five) in the Premier League this term.
– Southampton are now winless in their last five Premier League away games (D2 L3), and have only won once on the road in the competition this term (1-0 at Crystal Palace).
– Saints have only won one of their last 51 games in the Premier League when trailing at half-time (3-2 v Liverpool in March 2016), drawing 11 and losing 39.
– Ryan Fraser scored his first Premier League goal since January 3rd (v Arsenal), ending a run of 24 appearances without finding the net.
– Charlie Austin has netted seven goals in his last 10 Premier League starts for Southampton, including three in his last two.
– This was Austin’s 11th goal in the competition for Southampton, while he’s the only player to score 10 or more for the Saints since his debut in the competition (in January 2016).
– Nathan Redmond has provided an assist in each of his last two games at the Vitality Stadium, while Sunday’s contribution saw him equal his best assist total in a Premier League campaign (three – in 2015-16 and 2013-14).
– Only Lukasz Fabianski (35) has been forced into more saves than Fraser Forster (34) in Premier League away games this term.

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Southampton 1 West Brom 0: Boufal stunner ends Saints´ winless run

Sofiane Boufal’s majestic solo goal five minutes from time spared Southampton from more home frustration as they saw off West Brom 1-0 at St Mary’s.

The Morocco international came off the bench to slalom past several defenders and slide home in the 85th minute, one of few moments of quality in a tight Premier League tussle on Saturday.

Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino admitted ahead of the match that his players are susceptible to anxiety at home and their nerves threatened to spill over after an encouraging first half failed to generate a goal.

Former Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez spurned a gilt-edged chance to punish his former side and Dusan Tadic was also culpable of wasting a good opening for the hosts after half-time.

But Boufal, who had only been on the pitch for four minutes, finally discovered the required quality to earn his side a first win in four Premier League matches.

West Brom, who lost Jonny Evans to an early shoulder injury, are now winless in seven league fixtures, with little respite to come at home next weekend as Tony Pulis’ men host leaders Manchester City.

Veteran midfielder Gareth Barry fired wide with the first attempt from either side when his shot from distance brushed the side-netting of Fraser Forster’s goal.

The opening exchanges were otherwise predictably cagey until Ryan Bertrand’s curling free-kick clipped the outside of the right post, the ball aided on its way by a marginal deflection off Evans’ head.

Southampton took that as their cue to increase the tempo, Tadic drawing a comfortable save from Ben Foster, before Oriol Romeu directed a bouncing corner around the upright with a hurried shot on the turn.

And the hosts should have made it 1-0 when, after appeals for handball against Virgil van Dijk were waved away at one end, Manolo Gabbiadini raced to the other and saw Shane Long poke his low pass the wrong side of the near post.

Pellegrino’s side were given more encouragement on the half-hour as a heavy fall forced Evans off with a shoulder injury, although Foster’s smart save from a Maya Yoshida header meant they were unable to take advantage before half-time.

The primary creator in the first half, Gabbiadini looked to take the responsibility of scoring upon himself by twice trying his luck within five minutes of the restart.

West Brom soon issued a reminder of their threat on the counter-attack when Rodriguez broke a high line and went clean through for a one-on-one, but the striker inexplicably screwed his finish wide.

Serbia international Tadic should also have done better when confronted with a good opportunity in the other penalty area, the forward taking too long over his finish and allowing Foster to smother.

But the mounting tension at St Mary’s was finally relieved late in normal time as substitute Boufal conjured up the necessary magic to give Southampton just their second home victory of the campaign.

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Southampton Search for Consistency

Since returning to the Premier League in 2011/12, Southampton can be very pleased with their progress. They have moved from a 14th place finish in their first season back in the English top-flight to 6th place in 2015/16 and 8th place in 2016/17.

However, the success of the team has seen managers come and go with regularity in recent years. In the past 7 years, Nigel Adkins, Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman and Claude Puel have all managed the club with a degree of success and then moved on to new things.

The current manager at St Mary’s is Mauricio Pellegrino, their second Argentine manager in five years and he will be hoping to build on the success of previous coaches on the south coast.

To do that, the consistency of the team will need to improve this season and ahead of their home clash with Newcastle this Sunday, trends show Southampton have won only one of their previous six Premier League games.

The Saints have tasted defeat in three of their last four league matches, with losses at home against Watford and Manchester United plus an away defeat at Stoke City.

Southampton have lost each of their last three home games in all competitions and have failed to score in all three of them. In fact, trends show Southampton have failed to score in ten of their last fourteen games in all competitions and their lack of cutting edge in attack is worrying.

Newcastle United make the long journey down the length of England on the back of a good point in a 1-1 home draw with Liverpool prior to the international fixtures.

The point means Newcastle have lost only one of their last five games in all competitions and they come into this match on 10 points, 2 more than Southampton.

Away from home, Newcastle have played Huddersfield Town, Swansea City and Brighton and Hove Albion. Two of these teams were also promoted last season and Newcastle have lost to both 1-0, with the only win coming at Swansea, which also a 1-0 score line.

Rafa Benitez is clearly keen to keep things tight when on the road and this match will be their biggest test away from home so far in the Premier League this season.

Newcastle’s record against Southampton is poor and trends show they have won only one of their last eight matches in the Premier League against the Saints.

Looking ahead to the team news and Southampton could without striker Shane Long, who picked up an injury while on international duty with Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, they should be close to full strength.

Newcastle will travel without the injured duo of Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett. Massadio Haidara is recovering from a knee injury and this game could come too soon for the Frenchman.

Given the poor scoring form of Southampton at home and Newcastle’s tendency to keep things tight on the road, we could be in for a low scoring match and under 2.5 goals. In fact, a 0-0 draw is not out of the question.

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United to record victory at home wary Southampton

Southampton have endured an inconsistent start to their Premier League campaign. On Saturday, the Saints welcomes high-flying Manchester United to St Marys.

The home side have struggled for not just wins on home soil of late, but also goals. The team from the south coast have claimed just one win from their last eight games at St Marys in the English top-flight and scored in just one of those eight outings.

The last thing they need is a visit from in-form Manchester United. The visitors are also a team that the Saints have beaten on just one occasion in the last five meetings in competitions. The trends certainly do not suggest that that record is likely to change in this clash.

Manchester United have looked highly impressive this season, winning four of their five league games so far. Last time out the Red Devils defeated Burton 4-1 in the League Cup, after defeating Everton 4-0 on Sunday in the Premier League.

Jose Mourinho’s team have now scored two or more goals in their last seven games in all competitions, which has led to there being over 2.5 goals in six of their seven outings this season.

United are currently unbeaten in three games away from home and have scored at least twice in both of their away games in the Premier League this season.

Summer signing Romelu Lukaku has been in deadly form in the top-flight this season, scoring five goals in as many appearances for Mourinho’s men. The striker will no doubt be confident of adding to that goal tally on the south coast.

Southampton do have a propensity for being involved in low-scoring games, though, so this may not be a pushover for United. However, Forebet predicts that the Red Devils will defeat the Saints and head home with maximum points.

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Crystal Palace 0 Southampton 1: Roy Hodgson´s first game ends in defeat

Roy Hodgson’s debut game in charge of Crystal Palace ended in defeat as Southampton won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Steven Davis’ goal in the sixth minute was enough to give the visitors the victory and inflict a fifth defeat in five on the Eagles.

The result also leaves them without a goal in 2017-18, meaning they have taken the longest of any top-flight team in England to score a goal, surpassing Newcastle United in 2005-06.

Hodgson was greeted with huge applause prior to kick-off, the former England boss having replaced Frank de Boer on a two-year deal this week, but the optimism quickly faded when Davis pounced on a rebound to open the scoring.

Palace, as they did in last week’s loss to Burnley, enjoyed plenty of possession and created good chances to equalise but were thwarted by two good saves from goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

The home side applied the pressure in the second half but Mauricio Pellegrino’s side were largely untroubled late on as they recorded their second win of the season and left Palace rooted to the bottom of the table.

Selhurst Park gave Hodgson a rapturous welcome ahead of kick-off but the home fans were soon silenced when Saints took the lead.

The ball was worked to Dusan Tadic inside the box and, when his drive across goal was parried by Wayne Hennessey, Davis was on hand to side-foot home the rebound from 12 yards.

Saints unsurprisingly looked the more confident but Palace twice nearly equalised before the half-hour mark, Christian Benteke denied by a point-blank block by Forster and Ruben Loftus-Cheek firing just wide of the left-hand post.

Andros Townsend flashed a half-volley narrowly over in first-half injury time and Palace stepped up the pressure after the break, with Forster making a fine save to deny Jason Puncheon after a Loftus-Cheek cross flew across the box.

Torrential rain began to fall as Palace committed more men forward, allowing Southampton the chance to exploit the slick surface on the counter-attack through Shane Long and Nathan Redmond.

Palace continued to press but belief seemed to ebb away from the players and the stands as Saints began to repel their attacks with relative ease, although Joel Ward did test Forster again with a header from a Yohan Cabaye cross.

The result means Palace have won only two of their last 17 meetings with Saints and could be six points adrift of safety if Leicester City beat Huddersfield Town later on Saturday.

Key Opta stats:
– Crystal Palace are without a goal in 450 minutes this season, the longest ever run from the start of a Premier League campaign.
– Crystal Palace are the first side in English top-flight history to open the season with five defeats and no goals scored.
– The Eagles have failed to find the back of the net in six consecutive league games for the first since January 1995 (a run of nine), with three different managers taking charge during this run (Sam Allardyce, Frank de Boer and Roy Hodgson).
– Southampton have won four of their last five meetings with Crystal Palace in all competitions, losing the other.
– Steven Davis scored his first Premier League goal since 15th May 2016 – also against Crystal Palace 489 days ago.

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Roy Hodgson Takes Charge of Palace for First Time as Crystal Palace host Southampton

Roy Hodgson Takes Charge of Palace for First Time as Crystal Palace host Southampton
Crystal Palace have endured a poor start to the 2017/18 Premier League season and Frank de Boer became the first managerial casualty because of their disappointing results.

The Dutchman was given very little time and despite failing to pick up a point in his time in charge at Selhurst Park, should surely have been given a little longer to turn things around. However, it wasn’t to be and Crystal Palace have a new man in the dugout this weekend and his name is Roy Hodgson.

The former England manager will start life in the Crystal Palace hot seat by taking on Southampton in the early kick-off in the Premier League on Saturday.

Hodgson will have his work cut out as trends show Crystal Palace have lost all four of their Premier League matches this season.

The Eagles started the campaign with what looked like a good fixture at home to Huddersfield but lost the match 3-0, a result which came as a big shock. Having lost this match, it was little surprise to see them go down 1-0 at Anfield, all be it with a slightly better performance.

The next match at home to Swansea City was the one to kick-start their campaign but Crystal Palace lost the match 2-0 and remained at the foot of the Premier League table. The 1-0 defeat at Burnley last weekend was the last straw and the board decided a change was required, even though we are still early in the season.

One look at Crystal Palace’s Premier League results this season highlights one glaring fact and trends show they are yet to score a single goal. Crystal Palace have also failed to keep a clean sheet and Hodgson has problems to solve at both ends of the pitch.

Life has not been without problems for Crystal Palace’s opponents this weekend, Southampton.

The Saints have won only one of their four Premier League games this season and that came in their second match at home to West Ham United. It was not a convincing performance however and Southampton needed a late goal to see off ten men.

The one bright spot for Southampton is the fact they have lost just one of their four games, which is a much superior record to their opponents. However, the defeat came at home to Watford last week and was a match to forget for Southampton.

Trends show the Saints have failed to score in the three of their four Premier League games and will need to up their game in-front of goal if they are to move into the top half of the table. In fact, they have failed to score in six of their last seven competitive games.

Looking at the team news and Crystal Palace are still without the injured trio of Connor Wickham, Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako for this game. Mamadou Sakho, James Tompkins and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are rated as doubtful.

Southampton are close to full strength but it remains to be seen if Virgil van Dijk will play any part in the match.

Both teams are struggling in attacking areas and this could make for a low scoring match. Furthermore, neither team are in good form or look capable of picking up maximum points. Crystal Palace may be buoyed with the arrival of a new manager but this alone will not be enough for them to win this match.

Under 2.5 goals and a draw looks a real possibility in this game.

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Van Dijk back in training with Southampton

LONDON- Virgil van Dijk is back in first team training at Southampton after a transfer request was rejected but the Dutch defender is still some way off match fitness, manager Mauricio Pellegrino said on Thursday.

The 26-year-old, who has not played for the Premier League club since an ankle injury in January, had been forced to train on his own after seeking to leave following interest from Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.

“Now he is training with the team again,” said Pellegrino.

”How long before we see him in a first-team match? It depends on the player.

“Now everything is normal. I think, obviously, Virgil is coming back from a long period of time and he needs to train and to play games to settle back again, but it’s good news for us,” he added.

The Argentine manager said Southampton had shown they did not need to sell players and wanted to retain talent to stay competitive.

He also welcomed a Premier League decision on Thursday to close the transfer window in future before the start of the season..

“We now focus on the competition. After three games, talking about movement and players leaving makes people anxious,” said Pellegrino. “For me it’s good news for everybody.”

Southampton, who are majority owned by Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao after he completed a takeover in August, have lost a large number of players to their domestic rivals in the past few seasons.

They play Watford at St Mary’s on Saturday, with both sides on two draws and a win so far this season.