Manchester United kicked off the Premier League campaign as one of the favourites for the title. In fact, most people when asked, believe the title will indeed end up in Manchester come the end of the season; with United and City going head to head in the race to be crowned champions. Manchester United began with back to back 4-0 victories and have only dropped points on one occasion so far, in a 2-2 draw away at Stoke. However, many suggest that the sign of a really good side is when they can grind out a result, and that’s exactly what United did against Southampton.
United headed into the game at St Mary’s knowing they would have to emerge victorious with City very likely to breeze past strugglers Crystal Palace. Southampton are a possession-hungry side, especially on home soil. So that Jose Mourinho’s men were sure to be in for a game, where they’d have to be patient and work hard for the result. Southampton had 61% possession, 5 more shots than United and double the amount of corners but it was they who were on the wrong side of a 1-0 reverse.
It’s a great sign for Mourinho and Manchester United, who only trail City on goal difference. United have shown that they can win games with aplomb when they brushed aside the likes of West Ham, Swansea and Everton, all by a 4-0 scoreline. The Southampton game though required a different game plan, it wasn’t a match where they could just go out and stroll to victory at a canter, they had to play the opposite way in essence. City have been impressive in their last 3 games, winning 5-0 then 6-0 and then today 5-0 again, but can they dig in and grind out results like United can?
Mourinho has always been a very pragmatic manager. He does what is required to ensure his team have the best chance of winning games and therefore titles and trophies. If they have to win ugly, they can and they’ve proved today that they have another side to their game as they continue their title challenge. You could say that Guardiola is the type of manager who wants his side to play football the “proper” way no matter what; and in a game where they aren’t going to have everything their own way, like in their next fixture against current title holders Chelsea, they could come unstuck. It is bound to be tightly contested and by taking a look at the Sportingbet odds , they have Manchester City at 2.55 for the win while Chelsea are 2.75 for the win.
United were, at times very one-dimensional last season but now they really do look the real deal. They have the players to adapt to the various systems and styles deployed by Mourinho and they’re proving that they can still get 3 points without key players such as Paul Pogba. It all looks good so far for United as they look to pile on more misery for Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace in their next league game and you can see them moving into top spot after that game too.