Manchester United – Southampton: Southampton Scupper United’s Top Four Hopes (2-2)
Southampton flew out of the blocks, pressing aggressively in their 4-4-2 shape to control the early proceedings. Manchester United eventually responded, but typical issues emerged in possession. The guests then reorganized, piled on the pressure, and found their reward in the dying embers of the game.
Tactical analysis by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
Manchester United have been in scintillating form since the resumption of Premier League football. The return of a fit Paul Pogba, coupled with Bruno Fernandes, has given verve to the midfield, while Mason Greenwood continues to thrive upfront. Picking up thirteen of the last possible fifteen points, Champions League football seemed within their reach once again after a troubled pre-lockdown season.
But Manchester City’s successful appeal has cast this belief in doubt, raising the stakes of this game. Three points would lift the hosts into third, putting them in the driving seat to trump their rivals in a tense top four race. As such, Ole Gunnar Solskjær chose the same starting eleven for a fifth consecutive league game.
Southampton likewise have enjoyed a strong run of form since the restart, claiming ten of the last fifteen available points. Negotiating a torrid start to the season, the guests currently sit in twelfth. They are one of the most aggressive pressing sides in the league under the tutelage of Ralph Hasenhüttl, who is molding an identity for his team.
Hasenhüttl lined up his side in their standard 4-4-2 formation. Given the success of recent weeks, he . . .