Southampton v Man United: Premier League
Monday night football brings us Southampton v Man United with United hitting their best run of form under Van Gaal. Man United have won nine and lost just one of the last 12 Premier League games against Saints
Southampton have embarked upon a series of unwanted firsts: first three-match winless streak of 2014/15, first successive defeats of the Ronald Koeman era and first two-game run without scoring.
Heading into November’s international break, they were second in the Premier League, a mere four points off leaders Chelsea, four clear of Man City and seven superior to everybody else.
A draw and two losses later, the Blues are out of sight ten points away, Man City have surged seven ahead and the chasing pack have done much of their running, with four clubs now within three points of the Saints.
However, there are some numbers which are arguably even more significant than the firsts already mentioned. There’s three – the number of defeats that they have suffered in their last 16 outings in all competitions, with those occurring against top-six finishers Tottenham, Man City and Arsenal.
How about 11 – the number of victories enjoyed in their previous 15 encounters regardless of the recent three-match hiccup? Victims include Arsenal at the Emirates in the Capital One Cup, West Ham at the Boleyn (the Irons earned 13 points from 15 there since), Swansea at the Liberty Stadium (their sole home reverse) and Newcastle 4-0 at St Mary’s (the Magpies have lost two in 13 since).
The most important digit of all is 26 – the points that they have gathered from a mere 14 games. It is four more than at this stage last season, when they comfortably achieved a top-eight ranking despite winning an unspectacular nine of their closing 27 clashes.
The Red Devils’ best run under Louis van Gaal…..four wins on the spin….. has helpfully coincided with Southampton’s weakest sequence under his old rival Ronald Koeman (one point from three fixtures).
Add in that the Saints have struggled against the Premier League’s elite this term – their four defeats arriving against Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City and Arsenal – and you have a compelling case for an away win.
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