- The first match of the season away from Old Trafford as United visited St Mary’s, following their convincing win against Leeds last week. This time around was nothing but convincing however by United who could only share the spoils against a resolute Southampton side. Despite starting on the front foot and forcing a number of set pieces in the first half from which United should have scored, it was the Saints who took the lead via a scrappy Fred own goal, as the latter’s deflection from Che Adams’s attempt, eluded De Gea and gave Southampton an unlikely lead. I thought there was a clear foul on Fernandes in the build-up to that goal but a barge by Stephens on Bruno was deemed to be within the limits of the new approach by officials in England this year, in their attempt to let play flow. United put on the pressure in the second half and deservedly went level, as an exquisite link-up between Pogba and Fernandes released Greenwood at the edge of the penalty area and the latter’s scruffy shot found the net. In the fifteen minutes that followed, United should have put the game to bed but somehow, they failed to capitalize on the chances they created. Instead, it was Southampton who upped their game in the last quarter of the match and saw out the remaining minutes to earn their first point of the season.
2. On the positive side, with this draw, United managed to equal the record for undefeated away matches, which is held by Henry’s Arsenal. Indeed, United have not been beaten away from Old Trafford for 27 matches and in our next away fixture, we could out on our own if we avoid defeat. On the flip side, if we want to challenge for the Premier League, we cannot lose points against teams like Southampton, whether home or away. I have the utmost respect for the Saints, don’t get me wrong. They worked hard and fought for every ball, they defended stoutly but also found time to go forward and be dangerous. In Ward-Prowse they have a deep-lying midfielder who technically and tactically is better than our midfielders and never loses the ball. The latter is where the United players disappointed me today. They lost the ball too many times, particularly at the back. Many passes lacked precision and possession was lost cheaply at times. Lindelof was at fault several times – maybe he feels the pressure of Varane – together with Wan Bissaka and Maguire also, while Fred is usually clumsy with possession, so that comes with the package. Maybe it was overconfidence after the win last week and if that’s the case, they could clearly see that in the Premiership, you have to match your opponents in intensity and endeavor in order for the quality to shine. Certainly, if United wants to return to winning ways in their next fixture, Ole needs to ring the changes to keep everyone on their toes. I expect Varane and Sancho to start in the next match against Wolves away.
3. Not many United players distinguished themselves against Southampton. My pick goes for Greenwood, not just for his goal which salvaged a point but for another all-around performance. Mason started on the right and was lively with the ball and without and when Ole shifted him to lead the line, he worked the channels and gave the Southampton defenders a hard time. His performance deserved to be rewarded with a win, but it was not to be.
Looking forward to receiving your thoughts on the Facebook page. GGMU
Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.