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Wouldn’t it be nice if the last minute errors at White Hart Lane a few weeks ago could be erased with a victory against Southampton tonight? Of course, the gap could have grown to nine points had we not conceded that late equaliser but I will be more than happy with seven points separating us from everyone else.
After looking dead certs for relegation not so long ago, Southampton are on a great run for them, drawing five and winning one of their last six, against the likes of Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal. They’re now three points away from the relegation zone and will likely come to Old Trafford with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude.
If anything could warn us that this game won’t be a walk over it is the performance they put in against us at St Mary’s. We went behind twice and were losing with five minutes left to play, before Robin van Persie completed his hattrick .
There have been no new injuries since our last league game, which is quite an achievement for us these days, so it will be interesting to see which players the manager starts with. We play Fulham again at the weekend, this time away from home, before a nice eight day rest until Everton.
You would expect to see Tom Cleverley brought back in the side for tonight’s game and I wouldn’t mind seeing him alongside Anderson. The two of them are never fit long enough to really show what they can do as a midfield pairing. The boss doesn’t seem to like resting Carrick but this might be a good opportunity to give him a break ahead of the gruelling run in. Kagawa dropped back in to central midfield at the weekend and is getting a lot of games under his belt at the moment, so he’s always an option. Giggs has been playing well down the left wing but tonight could serve as another opportunity for Valencia and Nani to sort themselves out on the wings and give Giggs’ almost 40-year-old legs a rest.
The next issue is who will play up front, with Wayne Rooney now dropped from penalty duty, but scoring a great goal against Fulham in the Cup. It was like Rooney of old the way he turned and smashed it in, so you would imagine the manager will keep him in the starting line-up, but who with? Ferguson has spoken this week of the ‘dilemma’ that Chicharito poses him, with Robin van Persie often chosen ahead of him.
“Sometimes I leave him out to bring in Robin van Persie but, as I explain to him, we regard him so highly,” he said. “He’s a fantastic professional, unbelievable attitude to the game, never stops running or working and every training session is the same.”
We really are spoilt for choice up front, with Danny Welbeck also an option. As well as wanting to stay in cup competitions for the obvious reason, it’s important for us to last as long as we possibly can so there are as many games as possible to keep our squad players happy.
You have to fancy a United win tonight, particularly after the incentive City gave us with their surprising draw against QPR. But you have to expect that Southampton will give us a real game and just turning up won’t be enough to get us the three points tonight.