Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary’s with a wonder strike from Daniel James (£6.0m) proving to not be enough for Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s side, who have won just one of their first four Premier League matches.
We look at the key Fantasy talking points from the south coast.
Southampton 1-1 Manchester United
- Goals: Daniel James (£6.0m) | Jannik Vestergaard (£5.0m)
- Assists: Scott McTominay (£5.0m) | Kevin Danso (£4.5m)
- Bonus: Vestergaard, McTominay – 3, Gunn, James – 2
After signing from Swansea City for a £15m fee in the summer window, James was expected to play a part in United’s attacking armoury, but after four games it is evident that this is a player with the ability to make a significant, impactful contribution for the Red Devils in 2019/20.
Having cut in from the left flank, James drilled a superb strike beyond the reach of Angus Gunn (£4.5m) to assert an early level of control over the Saints, whilst also testing the Southampton goalkeeper on a number of occasions throughout the match.
Particularly given the potential absence of Anthony Martial (£7.7m), James is showing glimpses of a player who has the potential to excel for United in the goalscoring department, and once again on Saturday the Welshman, owned by just over 5% of managers, displayed his attacking prowess with a fine finish despite the bitterly disappointing scoreline.
It should be noted that James’ goal, as was the case against Palace last weekend, came when he was stationed on the left wing and his FPL appeal going forward perhaps partly hinges on where Solskjaer will deploy him, with a role on the right flank arguably not suited to his skill set (as evidenced against Wolves).
For United’s defensive quartet of Harry Maguire (£5.5m), Victor Lindelof (£5.5m), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.6m) and Ashley Young (£5.4m), who was recalled after an injury to Luke Shaw (£5.5m), Saturday’s game marked yet another failure to keep a clean sheet, though they did show defensive resilience.
The Red Devils were denied a shut-out when Jannik Vestergaard (£5.0m) rose highest after a chipped ball into the box from Kevin Danso (£4.5m) to draw Southampton level.
A start didn’t materialise for budget FPL forward Mason Greenwood (£4.5m), while Marcus Rashford (£8.6m) was unable to reward his 24.7% of owners with any attacking returns despite looking dangerous at times.
The 21-year-old has now blanked in two consecutive fixtures after starting the season with successive attacking returns.
In the context of United’s ambitions for the season, this was another blow for the club but also highlighted the fragile nature of their defence. If United’s defensive assets are to be considered long-term, viable options for Fantasy managers, then games against Crystal Palace (h) and Southampton (a) should be viewed as having considerable clean sheet potential.
Yet two successive failures to keep out the opposition will mean ownership of United defenders comes under further scrutiny over the international break ahead of Gameweek 5, with testing games against attacking sides such as West Ham and Arsenal coming up in their next three fixtures.
Whilst the likes of Sofiane Boufal (£5.5m) and Danny Ings (£6.0m) did test United with several incisive runs, the Saints had shown no real signs of having a goalscoring threat prior to Vestergaard’s opener, with Southampton’s fortunes in front of goal epitomised by Che Adams (£5.8m) in the 55th minute: Adams was played through on goal with just David de Gea (£5.6m) to beat but fluffed his lines to make it a fourth blank in a row for the £15m summer signing from Birmingham.
An injury to Nathan Redmond (£6.4m) meant that an opportunity emerged in the starting line-up for Boufal, and the Moroccan did look sharp at times though lacked an end product.
On the basis of Saturday’s game against United, despite looking promising at points, investment in Southampton’s attacking options such as Ings and Adams is a difficult decision to justify with Tottenham (a) and Chelsea (h) on the horizon in their next four fixtures.
As Southampton appeared to be in the ascendancy, a second yellow for Danso meant that Hassenhuttl’s side were forced to play out the final 15 minutes with ten men, though the south coast side held on to build on their impressive victory over Brighton in Gameweek 3 with a valuable point against Solsjkaer’s men.
This was a game that served as a reminder towards Southampton’s ability to defy the odds against supposedly superior opposition, but the main headline will inevitably lie with United’s inability to see off ‘lesser’ opposition who, unlike Solsjkaer’s side, are unlikely to be competing for a spot in the top six.
On the basis of this showing at St Mary’s, it’s unlikely that United will be doing anything more than that, either.
Southampton XI (4-2-2-2): Gunn; Cedric, Danso, Vestergaard, Bednarek; Romeu, Hojbjerg, Romeu; Ward-Prowse, Boufal (Armstrong 71′); Ings (Yoshida 77′), Adams (Long 62′).
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Young, Lindelof, Maguire; McTominay (Greenwood 82′), Pogba; Periera (Lingard 68′), Mata (Matic 68′), James; Rashford.
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Lessons learned from Gameweek 4
- Southampton 1-1 Manchester United
- Chelsea 2-2 Sheffield United
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa
- Leicester 3-1 Bournemouth
- Manchester City 4-0 Brighton
- Newcastle 1-1 Watford
- West Ham 2-0 Norwich
- Burnley 0-3 Liverpool
- Everton 3-2 Wolves
- Arsenal 2-2 Spurs