Manchester United: Darren Fletcher - Out; Tom Cleverly, Rio Ferdinand & Rafael - Doubtful
Southampton: Pablo Oswaldo & Gaston Ramirez - Doubtful
Manchester United - None
Southampton - None
Manchester United: LWLLW
This fixture between United and Southampton is shaped up to be a dull affair. With United mis-firing due to the lack of quality they have and with Southampton boasting the best defence in the league, a solitary goal could be all that decides this match. For this reason the central focus is on Wayne Rooney winning the battle between himself, Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin.
Considering United base very little of their attacks from the center of the park, no matter how good Rooney is it seems strange he represents by far United's best source of victory. The problem is while United use the wings - in particularly the right - far more than they do the middle, they are extremely unproductive. Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones have to take full responsibility for this.
As if that was bad enough, Jones somehow manages to trump Valencia's dismal efforts. Screen four shows he has dribbled past his opponent once in five games (four of those at right back) and has only created the one chance as well - both an average of 0.2 per game. Finally, slide five has a dash in the crossing column; Jones has had 11 opportunities and is yet to find a teammate.
Supporters of Jones will allude to the fact his main trade is at center back - not good enough. United are a massive club with the highest of standards, as such no excuses should be handed out when someone is performing below par. Barcelona have always played players out of position and the technical excellence is such it does not make a noticeable difference. Bayern Munich are doing the same with Muller and Lahm and they are still able to perform at their normally exceptional levels.
United during their peak were among Europe's pacesetters, since being surpassed by Barcelona et al, they slowly started regressing until they were no longer in Barca's league. Although this decline started with Sir Alex Ferguson, it is one Moyes has inherited and the struggles of Valencia and Jones is evidence of this. Moyes could introduced Kagawa, though he is wholly unsuited to a wide area and United (at least until Rafael comes back) do not have a right back who can cover the flank well when he tucks in. Luckily for Moyes Rooney is having a renaissance. He has created 9 chances in 6 games at an average of 1.5 per game. He has also dribbled past his opponent the same amount of times - a shock considering this is a tally he struggles to get above doubled figures in most seasons. Finally, slide two reveals he makes on average 45.3 passes per game - 4.3 of those long passes - evidently showing he has become the heartbeat of this team.
Manchester United 0-0 Southampton
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored