Saints out to block Man United take-off

18 October 2013 12:16

Manchester United will look to get their league title defence airborne at home to high-flying Southampton on Saturday, as the Premier League resumes following the international break.

United's England players will return to club duty with a spring in their step after the national team secured qualification for next year's World Cup, but Old Trafford has not been a happy place in recent weeks.

With only two wins in their last six games, David Moyes's side trail early leaders Arsenal by six points and in Southampton they face a team who have climbed to fourth place following a run of three straight victories.

The shadow of former manager Alex Ferguson continues to loom over the club but he has urged fans to show patience.

Speaking at an event to unveil a road near Old Trafford that has been renamed in his honour earlier this week, Ferguson said: "It's a great, great football club. You, the supporters, have enjoyed it.

"And I still think that a lot of our young fans don't remember that there were bad days. Dealing with bad days is what we're good at. This club will always go on."

A brace from teenage winger Adnan Januzaj gave United a 2-1 win at Sunderland in their last outing but Southampton are likely to present formidable opposition, having gone four games without conceding a goal.

Saints captain Adam Lallana has given Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino the credit for their fine start to the campaign.

"We've had a full pre-season under him to get his tactics and methods across," Lallana told local newspaper the Daily Echo. "You're starting to see all the rewards of our hard work under the manager."

The top five clubs are in action on Saturday, with Arsenal hosting Norwich City, second-placed Liverpool visiting Newcastle United, third-placed Chelsea facing Cardiff City and Manchester City, who go into the weekend in fifth, travelling to West Ham United.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, whose side won 6-0 in the corresponding fixture against Newcastle last season, has revealed that he will have three players available for selection again after injury for the trip to St James' Park.

"We'll arrive with our strongest squad of the season against Newcastle," he said.

"They haven't played games but they've been training now for the last few weeks. Glen Johnson will be back, Joe Allen will be back, (Aly) Cissokho will be back."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, says that club-record signing Mesut Ozil will undergo a fitness test on Friday after hurting his knee on international duty with Germany.

"He is alright. He came back with a knock on the knee but it was just a kick," the Frenchman said.

"We'll have a test (Friday) to see if he is fit enough for Saturday or not. When you have not played, there is always a little doubt, but not a major one."

Gus Poyet will take charge of his first match as a Premier League manager when bottom club Sunderland visit Swansea City.

The former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was appointed successor to the sacked Paolo Di Canio prior to the international break.

"Swansea are a team that have been playing the same system for a while and are very comfortable with it," Poyet told regional newspaper the Sunderland Echo.

"At the moment though, it doesn't matter too much who we play, or where. Our position means that we need to go out looking for a win."

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has attempted to calm the excitement around young midfielder Ravel Morrison, who scored a fine solo goal in a 3-0 win at Tottenham before netting twice for England Under-21s.

"I have to be careful with the amount of publicity that Rav gets," Allardyce said ahead of the home game with Manchester City.

"They can have their ups and downs, they burst onto the scene, they can get lavished with praise and then lose their focus and, when they lose their focus, they can dip away again, and I don't really want that."

Tottenham visit Aston Villa on Sunday while Monday's fixture is a London derby between Crystal Palace and Fulham.


Saturday (1400GMT unless otherwise stated):

Arsenal v Norwich City, Chelsea v Cardiff City, Everton v Hull City, Manchester United v Southampton, Newcastle United v Liverpool (1145GMT), Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City v Sunderland, West Ham United v Manchester City (1630GMT)

Sunday (1500GMT):

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur

Monday (1900GMT):

Crystal Palace v Fulham

Source: AFP

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44