Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his Manchester United players that they cannot afford to get ahead of themselves after beginning their Premier League campaign in style.
The Red Devils thrashed rivals Leeds United 5-1 last weekend to lay down a marker at the start of a campaign that they will hope ends with a first title since 2012-13.
United went the whole of last season unbeaten on their travels and are one short of the English top-flight record of 27 away games without defeat set by Arsenal in 2004.
However, Solskjaer is aware that his side must maintain their form across the whole campaign, with three points at Southampton on Sunday the next target.
“It was a great start for us,” said Solskjaer, who could hand full debuts to Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane at St Mary’s.
“When you get off to a good start with the fans, it changes the mood, or it sets the mood. Our job now is to capitalise on it, get more energy, don’t get complacent.”
United beat Southampton 9-0 when the sides last met in February – the joint-biggest win in Premier League history – but Solskjaer is expecting a tougher test this time around.
“Having fans in the ground will make a big difference,” he said. “You want to silence the home crowd. It’s going be loud, but it’s up to us to play the football to do that as well.”
Southampton kicked off their 2021-22 campaign with a 3-1 loss at Everton and have won their first home league match in just three of the last 30 seasons.
Saints head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl is under no illusion of the size of the task facing his side this weekend.
“We know that this is a good team – they won their first game 5-1 against Leeds. That is a massive statement and we know what we are up against,” he said.
“But we are willing to show our habits, our behaviours and make it as uncomfortable as possible for them.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – Adam Armstrong
Armstrong has been tasked with filling the void left by Danny Ings, who departed for Aston Villa earlier this month, and has made a good start to life at his new club. He scored on his debut and is now looking to become the third player to net in his first two Southampton games in the competition after Manolo Gabbiadini and Henri Camara.
Manchester United – Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes enjoyed an incredible 2020-21 campaign and started the new season in style with an opening game hat-trick against Leeds. The Portuguese midfielder, who is reportedly set to be offered a new contract by United, has yet to end on the losing side in any of his 25 away league matches for the club.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Southampton won four of their last six Premier League matches against Man Utd at the Dell (L2) but have beaten them just once in 13 league meetings at St Mary’s (D4 L8), a 1-0 win in August 2003 with James Beattie scoring the winner. They are winless in 10 home league games against the Red Devils (D4 L6), despite taking the lead in six of those games.
– United have recovered 35 points from losing positions in Premier League games against Southampton, more than any side has against another in the competition’s history. The Red Devils’ 10 comeback wins against Saints is also the joint most for one side against a specific opponent in the competition (Man Utd also 10 v Newcastle).
– The Red Devils scored five goals in their season opener against Leeds, while the most they have scored through their opening two games of a Premier League season is eight (in 2017-18 under Jose Mourinho and 2006-07 under Sir Alex Ferguson).
– Che Adams has been directly involved in four goals in his last four Premier League games for Southampton (two goals, two assists), as many direct goal involvements as he recorded in his previous 21 appearances.
– Despite only playing 45 minutes in each Premier League game against Southampton last season, Edinson Cavani scored three goals and assisted once for United, scoring a 90th-minute winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Saints at St Mary’s.