Old Trafford side look primed for a home banker against visitors from the South-Coast.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has revealed Javier Hernandez is leaving him with a dilemma as to whether he drop the Mexican striker for the visit of Southampton on Wednesday.
Hernandez, 24, has scored 14 goals so far this season despite not being a regular starter for the Premier League leaders.
But he has had to battle with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck for a place in United’s line-up.
Hernandez scored two goals as United knocked Fulham out of the FA Cup on Saturday but may find himself on the bench when the Saints come to Old Trafford, with van Persie likely to return for the Premier League fixture.
The Dutchman was rested for the Cup tie but Ferguson cannot be expected to leave the league’s top scorer out of a match where United’s lead at the top might be cut to two points by kick-off if champions Manchester City beat bottom-of-the-table QPR on Tuesday.
“He got a break in the summer, got the little rest and shown the benefit,” Ferguson said of Hernandez. “It’s a terrible dilemma when I’ve got that lad there. Sometimes I leave him out to bring in Robin van Persie, but as I explain to him, we regard him so highly.
“He’s a fantastic professional, unbelievable attitude to the game, never stops running or working and every training session’s the same, so I’m really pleased for him.”
With van Persie, Rooney, Hernandez and Welbeck performing impressively in attack, comparisons have been made with United’s forward options during their Treble-winning campaign of 1999.
Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led the line that year when United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, and Ferguson admits his current crop are just as good.
“The four in ’99 were fantastic players,” he said. “You couldn’t possibly criticise any of them, they were fantastic, but we’ve got four players today who are equally as good.”
United midfielder Anderson reckons they have a team capable of repeating that same hat-trick of trophies in the one season.
“Of course,” the Brazilian said when asked if he thought United could complete the Treble this season. “We have unbelievable players.
“I know the boss has two or three teams. He doesn’t play 11 players all the time, he changes players and I think he has an unbelievable squad.”
New Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino will be handed a welcome lift if Adam Lallana can prove his fitness ahead of the Argentine’s second game in charge since his appointment following the controversial dismissal of Nigel Adkins.
Lallana, the Saints captain, has been sidelined with a knee ligament injury suffered in the clash with Reading in early December but the midfielder returned to training last week to put himself in contention for an Old Trafford recall.
Pochettino took his squad, currently four points clear of the relegation zone, to Barcelona for some warm weather training last week and the manager said: “It was a very good week of work and a good atmosphere.
“We’ve got to know the players very well and the players have got to know us well too, not just my staff, the technical staff involved with the club too, so overall it was a very positive experience.”
He added: “We definitely respect Manchester United and what they’re doing in the league right now, they’re an amazing team, but we’re going with a mentality to win and we’ll see how the game proceeds.”
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Nani, Van Persie, Rooney
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Forren, Hooiveld, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Cork; Puncheon, Ramirez, Lallana; Lambert
Manchester United have won their last seven matches against Southampton in all competitions, since the 1-0 away defeat in August 2003 (when James Beattie scored the only goal).
Southampton have not won in their last 17 league visits to Old Trafford (15 defeats). Their last victory there came in January 1988.
They have lost only 32 of their 397 Premier League matches at Old Trafford since the Premier League began in 1992.
United are unbeaten in their last 32 Premier League home matches against promoted clubs, stretching back over 11 years (since a 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers in October 2001).
The Red Devils have scored in each of their last 60 Premier League home matches, an all-time Premier League record and the longest run by any top-flight club since Wolves’ 75-match streak from 1956 to 1959.
Ryan Giggs is set to make his 650th English league appearance for Manchester United.
Robin van Persie has scored in the club’s last five Premier League matches. The last United player to score in six
Premier League matches in a row was Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.
The Saints are unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches – their longest unbeaten top-flight run since August to September 2003.
They have conceded 26 Premier League away goals this season. Only Aston Villa, with 28, have conceded more in the division.
Southampton have lost both Premier League matches against Manchester opponents this season by a 3-2 scoreline. On both occasions they were 2-1 up.
They have 23 points from 23 Premier League matches this season – eight more points than they had at this stage of their last Premier League season in 2004-05, when they were relegated.
Rickie Lambert has scored in each of the club’s last four Premier League away matches, and is two short of scoring 100 goals for Southampton in all competitions.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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