New season new hopes and an ambition of new dawn at the Theatre of Dreams. After completing four blockbuster deals, the red half of Manchester are expected to compete for all the big trophies. The reds won their first title under the manager as they defeated the Premier League champions Leicester City, and soon after that, a 1-3 win over Edie Howe’s men, Bournemouth, has given them a good start in the league.
The path towards the title is stiff, but with a manager like Jose Mourinho at the throne, it surely is a possibility. The upcoming hurdle for the Devils is the South Coast club Southampton, who will be travelling to the Old Trafford with a hope of bouncing back into the league. The Saints recently played a 1-1 draw against a lowly Watford side at the Saint Mary’s, and an improved performance from the side is expected.
But even after a draw, Southampton will be carrying a little bit of confidence as they are aware of the fact that they do have an impressive away record against the Devils. The Saints have won their previous two Old Trafford outings.
The game is surely going to be a tough one, and here, we give you three key battles, that will decide Manchester United’s game against Southampton:
Zlatan vs Van Dijk-
The 34-year-old big Swede has denied all the odds, who criticized his arrival in the Premier League at this moment of his career. Ibrahimovic, who goes by the name of Dare to Zlatan, scored in his very first competitive game for the Devils, which turned out to be the winner in the Community Shield. Furthermore, his scintillating strike against Bournemouth let the spectators jump off their seats.
With a comparatively tougher game to play, the towering Swedish will now be facing the Dutch heavyweight, Virgil van Dijk. The 25-year-old defender won 65% of his duels last season, which undoubtedly is an impressive number. Even in the game against Watford, he averaged 10 defensive actions, which is a clear indication that Zlatan will be having a tough time at the Old Trafford.
Bailly vs Long-
Manchester United’s new acquisition, Eric Bailly has really impressed the sporting fans with his amazing defensive performances. The 22-year-old, who arrived from the Spanish side Villarreal, was a subject of heavy criticism (due to his fee) but the Ivorian international answered his critics in style as he gave a man of the match performance against Leicester City in the Community Shield game. The 22-year-old didn’t stop and gave another man of the match performance against Bournemouth and now, it is safe to say that he has concreted his place in the squad.
So in the upcoming fixture, the 22-year-old is likely to face Southampton’s 29-year-old Irish attacker, Shane Long. The striker had a tough game last time out, but he knows how important he is for the team. With the departure of Graziano Pelle, Long is likely to take the starting spot and looking at the Bailly, it is fair to say that Long will be having a long night at the Theatre of Dreams.
Tadic vs Carrick/Herrera-
Undoubtedly, Southampton’s most danger is their 27-year-old Serbian international, Dusan Tadic. The Serbian, in the previous campaign, scored 7 goals and marked 12 assists to his name, and this time around, his significance in the team is elevated. The side has to cope up without the goal scoring machines like Pelle and Mane, therefore, the 29-year-old will have to work his socks off and looking at his recent form, the attacking midfielder is well capable of doing that.
With him playing just behind the striker, he will be facing either Michael Carrick or Ander Herrera. Manchester United’s manager recently hinted that he might use a central midfield of Carrick and Pogba against the Saints and therefore, it is understood that Carrick will be having a tough night on the pitch. Tadic is quick as light and is astute as anything, but so is Carrick. This will be a good battle to watch for the nuetrals.