Premier League Top of the Table Clash: Man U vs. Southampton

Lee Phelps

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 2:06 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 2:06 PM GMT

Not many pundits would have predicted this would be third v fourth after the first game of the Premier League, our tipster being one of them! He's looking at the match to see if the betting favorites are worth backing at the odds as one of his free picks.

With third place Manchester United facing Southampton in fourth. The Saints have picked up 10 points over the holiday period, not only arresting their previous slump, but kicking on with wins against Everton, Arsenal and Crystal Palace and a draw with Chelsea.

Louis van Gaal’s team looked leggy in their draws against Tottenham and Stoke and the manager has complained about the amount of football his players have had to play. They have picked up six points from their four festive fixtures, but three of them have been away from home where they have only amassed 12 of their 37 points.

The five head-to-heads during Saints‘ current Premier League stay shows no win for the south coast side, with United winning three and  two of the last three being 1-1 draws. If you’re a both teams to score punter, you’ll be interested to know that all five matches have featured goals for both sides.

 

Manchester United
Wayne Rooney and Co will no doubt have been happy with a rest this week and delighted to be home again. Their Old Trafford results have been impressive ever since that opening day horror show against Swansea. They have only dropped two points since then, with the draw against Chelsea.

They have won every other game scoring 22 goals in front of the home fans and conceding seven, illustrating how clinical their front men are and also showing how despite the question marks about their defending, they have four clean sheets and three in the last four.

One trend that I followed under the Sir Alex Ferguson reign was early goals for Manchester United and it’s still strong enough to follow under van Gaal. Of those 22 home goals 13 have come in the first half and eight have been scored inside the first 30 minutes, with five of them bagged by Rooney. The England captain has scored seven of his eight at Old Trafford and is still the main man despite the influx of quality signings.

 

Southampton
Ronald Koeman deserves huge credit for stopping the rot that had set in, in late November and carried on through the first half of December. They lost five matches on the spin, but have battled back and look to be back to their early season form again. One man who will be missed is Sadio Mane, he’s away with Senegal for the African Cup of Nations, while Maya Yoshida, who has started eight matches this season, is at the Asia Cup with Japan.

The Saints’ away form isn’t dissimilar to United’s with 13 of their 36 points picked up on their travels and the wins coming at Crystal Palace, Hull, Swansea and West Ham. Regular readers will know I’m a fan of their tactics in that they get the ball back and attack quickly, but I think they’ll find it difficult against Manchester United with the protection Michael Carrick gives them, but I do think it will be low scoring with six of the last seven away games landing an under 2.5 goals bet.

Goal-scoring hasn’t been easy on the road, with only two matches featuring more than one, so the worry is they will simply be out-scored by a United team who have scored two or more in seven of their home games.

Don't miss out the action and shop for the best numbers for all soccer games with SBR's live odds board.

 

Soccer picks
I see this being a tight game with these two old Dutch foes locking clogs again. LVG has the upper hand of course after RVP’s double earned all three points at St Mary’s at the start of December, despite only having three shots in the 90 minutes.

So, Southampton will set up with the intention of taking a point away from Old Trafford and maintaining their recent run, but I think we may see an open first half as we have on a number of occasions this season.

For Manchester United to score a goal or more in the first half is 4/5, which I could play with my soccer picks, but it won’t be my main bet. I’m going to pair that early goals stat with the fact that van Persie has scored seven goals in seven games against this Sunday’s opponents and go for RVP to score first at 9/2.

Free soccer Pick: Robin van Persie first goal scorer: 9/2

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