5 Things We Learned From Manchester United 0-1 Southampton


1. Southampton produced the perfect away performance

If any side wants a lesson in how to get a result at Manchester United – or any of the other top clubs – they should watch this. It wasn’t pretty to watch (in fact, it was bloody boring) but Southampton defended with resilience and discipline, then took their chance when it came. Another example of the extension of the pressing game Mauricio Pochettino introduced and Ronald Koeman has developed. Bravo!

 

2. Champions League football at St Mary's? Don’t bet against it

It’s January and Southampton refuse to go away. They must be taken very seriously as top four contenders, with fellow top four hopefuls Arsenal and now Manchester United losing out to Ronald Koeman’s side. This performance showed maturity as they failed to shrink in the face of one of the best attacking forces in the country, a quality that would stand them in good stead in Europe’s premier club competition. Every neutral is willing them to do it.

 

3. Louis van Gaal got his selection wrong

Hindsight is handy, but even before kick-off most people were surprised to see Radamel Falcao omitted from the squad. Van Persie, Mata, Di Maria and Rooney all started and were unable to register a single shot on target between them. With Falcao showing signs of a growing understanding with Van Persie, Van Gaal should have at least had Falcao on the bench.

 

4. United’s wingback system doesn’t always work

Luke Shaw failed to complete a full 90 minutes again and Antonio Valencia was not very effective. And that’s because they came up against a side whose full-backs aren’t afraid to attack, making United’s formation closer to a 5-3-2 than a 3-5-2. Van Gaal is a big believer in wingbacks, but Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand exposed its limitations.

 

5. A setback for United, but not a derailment

As disappointing as this result is for United, it’s needn’t be the end of the world for them. Southampton are a genuine force this season and many worse teams will visit Old Trafford before the season is out. But for United, who had not lost a Premier League game since November 2, this defeat will plant a seed of doubt in their minds. With Southampton in the top three, Arsenal improving and Tottenham closing in, United mustn’t let this defeat set them back.

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