Can Southampton sustain superb scoring record against Man Utd?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | August 18, 2016
Man Utd just can’t stop Southampton scoring
In all eight games against Manchester United since returning to the Premier League in 2012, Southampton scoring has been a feature of this fixture.
This remarkable stat is made even more so when you consider how many star performers have been sold by the Saints over that period.
It’s a fact brought all the more closer to home by the possible inclusion of one-time St Mary’s favourites Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin against their old club for the Red Devils.
While the main subplot and mass media attention is likely to focus on the anticipated bow of £89m world record signing Paul Pogba for the home team in this Man Utd match, there’s another story surrounding this game.
Fonte to follow suit?
Jose Fonte, a Euro 2016 winner with his native Portugal this summer, is repeatedly linked with following Schneiderlin and Shaw to Old Trafford.
A south coast side colossus at centre back that has been a virtual constant among Southampton’s Premier League stint, back-to-back Saints away wins at the Theatre of Dreams have been as much down to late-blooming Fonte and his dogged defensive work than whoever stuck the ball in the net.
Coral offer Saints odds of 16/1 they can win 1-0 yet again for the third successive season at Old Trafford. A cheeky £3 punt at that price would return more than £50 if Claude Puel can do what predecessor Ronald Koeman managed in both his campaigns in charge.
Second-half winners courtesy of Charlie Austin (11/4 to strike again anytime) and Dusan Tadic (7/2 in that market) may have given Man Utd that smash-and-grab victims feeling, but Southampton scoring also has a ring of inevitability about it for other reasons.
No Small task to shut out Saints
Perhaps more significant than recent history is the fact United haven’t kept a clean sheet in their Community Shield and Premier League outings this season, and Saints have failed to score in a competitive game just once since March 1st.
That can be put down to new £30m man Eric Bailly bedding in, despite spells of impressive and athletic defending, and the absence of Chris Smalling – now the star Red Devils’ centre back – through suspension.
For all his improvement last term, Smalling has never been in a Man Utd side that has shut Southampton out. Yet, with Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane sold this summer, Mourinho’s men may change that.
A Red Devils clean sheet comes in as a 10/11 chance, but a win to nil is better at 6/5 if you’re thinking of siding with the hosts.
Visitors to have final say?
Yet Southampton scoring last is so common against United – in four of the previous six head-to-heads and all of the last three. That makes a 27/10 punt on them netting the final goal well worth a wager, not least because Puel has plenty of players to stretch the home team.
Winger Nathan Redmond made a scoring debut for Saints against Watford following a £10m move from Norwich City. Republic of Ireland frontman Shane Long, meanwhile, always offers plenty of graft up top.
Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was a victim of circumstance at Bayern Munich, and so highly-rated player signing for Southampton is a coup. He may make his full debut in the Man Utd match.
Young, energetic talents like Hojbjerg, James Ward-Prowse and Redmond being among the supporting cast mean Saints hold every chance of continuing that superb Red Devils scoring record.