SOUTHAMPTON HAVE BEEN dealt a harsh reality check upon their return to the Premier League with respite unlikely ahead of Manchester United’s visit.
Nigel Adkins’ side came up empty handed in an entertaining 3-2 loss to champions Manchester City on the opening weekend and were made to pay for some lacklustre finishing in a 2-0 defeat to Wigan in their opening home game at St Mary’s last Saturday that sees them already in the relegation zone.
Ominously for Southampton: of last season’s bottom 10, only relegated Bolton and Blackburn suffered home defeats to Wigan. And with United and Arsenal to come in the next two fixtures, they may well be without a point after four games.
United are not without their woes either despite a lively 3-2 win over a vibrant Fulham side at Old Trafford on Saturday, having already dropped three early points in a 1-0 defeat at Everton.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side showed menacing intent in the first half with the clash marking debut goals for new signings Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, but the day was soured by a nasty injury to ace Wayne Rooney. The England international suffered a nasty gash on his leg in a challenge and will likely miss up to a month, according to Ferguson.
Kagawa may well play in a more advanced role as a result despite Rooney not starting against Fulham in any case, while defenders Phil Jones (back) and Rio Ferdinand (leg) could both return to relieve makeshift options Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia.
For Southampton, former Chelsea midfielder Jack Cork is in line for a return to the side from an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Japanese striker Tadanari Lee could also return to Adkins’ squad following the foot injury that has seen him on the sidelines since last season.