5 Things We Learned From Southampton 2 - 3 Manchester United


Martial can be the difference

The Frenchman didn’t really do much for 34 minutes, but when he got his chance he took it superbly. The young striker looked ice cold as he turned Virgil van Dyk with such ease that the Dutchman had barely noticed he’d been left for dead before the ball was in the back of the net. His second was another cool finish and he looks like he’s taking it all in his stride.

Scoring goals is a very good habit to get into and it tends to be a hard one to get out of. If Martial is this sharp in front of goal then the fee United paid for him will be forgotten by Christmas.

 

De Gea could be United’s best signing

The Manchester United ‘keeper was all set to sign for Real Madrid on deadline day but for some reason or other it didn’t happen. It turns out it has worked out pretty well for both teams. Keylor Navas has equalled Real’s club record for clean sheets at the start of a season and De Gea is back to keeping Man United out of holes.

The Spanish stopper made a wonderful save prior to Graziano Pelle opening the scoring but it was his save from a Jose Fonte header just after Martial put United ahead that was pivotal. The ball looked past De Gea but threw up a hand and clawed it away. That save was just as important as the contribution of Martial, especially considering Pelle grabbed a late second for the hosts. De Gea then went on to to make three saves in quick succession in stoppage time to wrap up the points. Pure class.

 

Koeman’s men crumbled

Southampton looked in control for 30 minutes but after Anthony Martial’s first goal they seemed to go back into their shell and hand United the game. Yes, the visitors were ruthless but Saints did not help themselves by totally changing their approach to the game.

Pelle seemed to go and play on Chris Smalling instead of Blind, ultimately rendering his efforts useless. The balls into Mane seemed to stop and they in turn allowed the likes of Mata and Bastian Schweinsteiger to dictate play in the second half. The defence dropped deep, leaving space for United to play and that was ultimately what killed Koeman’s side. A late rally put gloss on the loss but the Dutch manager will be as perplexed as everyone else as to why they changed their style of play.

 

Shaw injury could be disaster for Red Devils

Losing Luke Shaw to his horrendous injury was always going to be tough to take for Manchester United and it left Louis van Gaal with a choice to make at left-back. Here he went with Marcos Rojo, not wanting to move Daley Blind from the central berth he has made his own alongside Chris Smalling.

However, the Argentinian looked out of place from the off, which is strange considering that is where he regularly plays for his country. His touch was terrible and he took far too many risks on the ball, losing it on numerous occasions in key areas. His team won but his performance won’t have done much to impress his boss. It is no coincedence that Southampton got most of their joy down the United left. It’s difficult to remember him having a good game in a red shirt and that will be an area that teams will look to exploit in the future.

 

United are still pedestrian at times

Prior to this game only Arsenal had more possession than Manchester United this season, with the Red Devils averaging 55%. However, it’s all well and good keeping it but you have to do something with the ball when you have it. Yes, they scored three goals but one was offside and the second was handed on a plate. Their first half showing is still concerning.

It happened against Swansea and it was on show again here in the first half. Van Gaal’s men kept the ball at times but never looked as if they were going to get in behind Saints, or even going to drive at the home side’s back four prior to Martial’s goal. United need to bring in a more direct minded attacking player to play in behind Martial in January.