Premier League Highlights: Southampton v. Manchester United
I spent my Sunday morning watching what I thought would finally be a dominant United display. I was sorely wrong.
United spent the first half largely mired in the midfield. While they dominated in possession, they did very little with it. On the other hand, Southampton looked good and quick on the attack. Each time down they looked threatening.
Rickie Lambert looked good whenever he got the ball, as did Adam Lallana. Lambert’s heading ability once again proved to be United’s undoing as he got the first goal of the match on 16 minutes.
I would say that Manchester United was lucky to get their goal 7 minutes later. Robin van Persie got his second goal in United red when he hammered home following an excellent cross into the box from Valencia. Their luck came from the slip of Soton’s Clyne that left RvP wide open.
My first half notes mainly critiqued United’s inability to do much of anything in the attacking third. Carrick struggled to keep possession and was to blame for several errant passes. Cleverly seemed to be in the same role as Carrick but neither was really able to assert themselves in the center of midfield. Valencia was dangerous on the right wing, but was very lonely as United played without a left winger. This really pushed their play to the center right of the field. Evra made some runs up the left as did van Persie, but they were unable to do much with it.
Southampton did very well to close down Man United quickly and clogged up their passing lanes. They played a very tough defense that disrupted their attacking flow throughout the match. On the counter they looked very dangerous and their holding midfield pair of Schneiderlin and Prowse shut down United’s midfield.
The second half began with more of the same for both sides. Southampton was able to get a bit of luck when Evra slipped in the box leaving Schniederlin wide open to put the Saints ahead 2-1 at 55 minutes.
After bringing on Nani and Scholes in midfield the Red Devils began to look more dangerous going forward and really pushed Southampton. Nani on the left wing opened up play much more and forced the Saints to spread themselves much more than in the first half.
Nani finally broke free into the box and was able to feed RvP who was brought down to get the penalty. United supporters were poised to celebrate when van Persie decided to attempt a cheeky chip, but had it saved well by Kelvin Davis. Poor decision, and poor penalty. He should’ve put some power into it and made it 2-2.
Van Persie was able to make up for the miss by netting the next goals for United in the 87th minute and getting the winner a minute into stoppage time.
The last 20 minutes saw United finally step up their game. Paul Scholes addition seemed to be the catalyst that they needed coupled with Nani’s ability down the left wing.
For Southampton, they fought hard and played well. They chose a mostly defensive tactic once they took the lead, but this seems to be many teams undoing against a United side that never quits.
Men of the Match:
Southampton: Adam Lallana – until he came off in the second half Lallana was a thorn in United’s side. He was dangerous every time he got the ball and made United’s defense work hard.
Manchester United: Robin van Persie – he worked hard to make himself available and moved in and out of space. In the second half he started to play deeper and help set up plays much like Rooney does. His hat trick was what United needed.
My Match Rating: 6/10 – It was not a great match to watch. The end was very dramatic, but United played sloppily. Southampton, for their part, played well, but ended up adopting a very defensive line by the end.