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Premier League Odds, Picks, Prediction: Can Southampton Shock Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United in EPL Clash?

Premier League Odds, Picks, Prediction: Can Southampton Shock Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United in EPL Clash? article feature image
Credit:

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images. Pictured: Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United host Southampton in Saturday's Premier League match.
  • The Red Devils are still trying to find their way under manager Ralf Rangnick, giving the Saints hope they can get a result.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the matchup below and details why he's backing Southampton at Old Trafford.

Man United vs. Southampton Odds

Man United Odds -165
Southampton Odds +450
Draw +320
Over/Under 2.5 (-155 / +125)
Day | Time Saturday | 7:30 a.m. ET
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Southampton had its best all-around performance of the season on Wednesday after the Saints scored two late headers in a 3-2 comeback win over Tottenham Hotspur in North London.

The Saints will look to pick off yet another top-four contender on the road on Saturday when they visit Manchester United at Old Trafford.

United’s performances have generally improved recently under new manager Ralf Rangnick, but media reports surrounding the players’ discontent with training and management surfaced yet again on Friday morning.

United have struggled to put together a full 90 minutes, at times looking excellent for one half and struggling in another. The Red Devils have especially struggled in second halves as the players tire and are unable to maintain the pressing that Rangnick wants.

This could be a nightmare against Southampton, one of the highest energy and pressing teams in the entire Premier League.

The Saints’ defensive press can often be exposed at the back when it’s not right, but Southampton has given trouble to many of the big six sides in the EPL this year. Draws with Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City, along with a win over Spurs show that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side will be a difficult foe for United on Saturday.

Man United Struggling to Find Consistency

Manchester United’s performance against Burnley away from home offered glimpses of what could be for the Red Devils in the first half. United outshot the Clarets, 12-0, created more than one expected goal, scored and could have scored multiple times if not for some controversial refereeing decisions.

The second half was a reversion to what’s been too much of an issue for the Red Devils. Burnley grabbed an equalizer, United couldn’t maintain its press as the forwards and midfield tired, and United never really came close to finding the winning goal.

Now, they’re back at home, where they’ve been much better under Rangnick. But can United maintain the level of pressing intensity?

The results of Rangnick ball are also pretty mixed when you consider the schedule of opponents. United has played three top-12 teams in the Rangnick era.

They needed a late winner on the last kick of the game at home against West Ham. They were played off the park for an entire half and lost, 1-0, at home to Wolves. United played a great first hour but once again ran out of gas and blew a 2-0 lead away at Villa.

Otherwise, United have beaten up on Norwich, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brentford toward the bottom of the table.

Given that the xG numbers have been relatively mediocre when you factor in strength of schedule, it doesn’t seem that United have really improved much overall. At times, it’s clear they have, but that hasn’t been consistent.

Another major issue for United in this matchup is set pieces. The Red Devils have just one set-piece goal all season and haven’t benefited much from dead ball situations at all. But at the other end of the pitch, only Leicester City has conceded more expected goals from set plays.

Enter James Ward-Prowse for Southampton — the best set-piece taker in the league right now. The Saints rank fifth in the entire league with eight set-piece goals.

Does Southampton Pose Challenge in Affair?

Southampton isn’t pressing quite as much this season as years past, but the Saints are still sixth in passes per defensive action in the league this year.

The defense has its holes when the press is broken — Southampton is third-worst in total big scoring chances allowed.

But generally speaking, Southampton’s shots for and shots against are actually quite good across the board. Like Wolves and Brentford have managed to do recently against United, I expect the Saints’ pressure to effectively force high turnovers against United and turn those into shots.

Manchester United ranks 14th in Pressure Success Rate Allowed, so it could spell trouble for a midfield that has struggled to be press resistant at times this season. Southampton has produced 36 shots from high turnovers, second in the entire EPL behind only Liverpool.

Once you get past the first few weeks of the season, as the Saints defense has really struggled to begin seasons, Hasenhuttl usually has his side firing by February, and recent performances suggest that.

They’ve performed well against Spurs, Manchester City, West Ham and Brentford of late, so they’ve also been much more tested than United in the last month.

Betting Analysis & Pick

These two sides met early in the season on the South Coast, a 1-1 draw that Southampton was a bit fortunate to avoid defeat in. But the Saints are pressing and playing at a much higher level right now and United has been scraping by, barely outplaying significantly worse teams of late.

Given the concerns over United’s ability to put together a full 90 minutes against the Saints’ press, Southampton should be more competitive than the market thinks in this match.

From a spot perspective, it’s never a great idea to back a team after their biggest win and performance of the season. But the market has moved accordingly since Manchester United opened -190 in this game and has trended down toward -165 on the moneyline as of Friday.

My projections show value on Southampton +1 all the way up to -150, and thus, I’m happy to take the +1 in an advantageous matchup, even if the spot isn’t great.

Pick: Southampton +1 (-115)

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