Manchester United host Southampton today with David Moyes’ side desperate to claw back ground in the Premier League title race.
United have lost three of their first seven league games under Moyes, but came from behind to win 2-1 at Sunderland, thanks to two goals from Adnan Januzaj, just before the international break.
Moyes’ predecessor Alex Ferguson stressed the need for patience as the Scot comes to terms with his new job and the former Everton boss is adamant that, despite sitting six points adrift of leaders Arsenal, there is plenty of time to get back on track.
However, the issues for Moyes continue to pile up, with Januzaj’s contract expiring at the end of the season.
The Scot must make decisions on the future of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Fabio, whose current deals also run out at the end of the season.
Speculation about Wayne Rooney’s future will continue as his contract is up in 2015, while Moyes must also deal with the situations of Shinji Kagawa and Wilfried Zaha, who have barely featured this season.
After a difficult start to the campaign, which saw his team face Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the space of their opening five games, Moyes will be happy at his team having five of their next seven matches at home ahead of the next international break.
That includes four consecutive home games, with Real Sociedad, Stoke City and Norwich City facing trips to Old Trafford after Southampton’s visit.
United, who have not been beaten at home by Southampton since 1988, then travel to Fulham and Sociedad before hosting Arsenal in their final match before the next international break.
Moyes’ injury worries have eased significantly of late, but a home victory is far from assured, with Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton emerging as one of the surprise successes of the season.
Saints go into the latest round of matches in fourth position after an impressive run built on four successive clean sheets.
Pochettino’s side have recently found a cutting edge to add to their solid defense, with front three Rickie Lambert, Daniel Osvaldo and Adam Lallana catching the eye in the recent victories over Crystal Palace and Swansea City.
Now the task confronting Pochettino is to keep expectations in check.
“It’s one thing to be confident, but another to be complacent,” he said. “We will have to work hard to get something from this game. The players fully believe in how we’re playing and that enables us to get the results we’re getting.”
“We need to keep our feet on the ground, though. There is a lot of the season left to play,” Pochettino said.
“Teams are already looking at us in a different manner and respecting us more. With every win, matches become harder,” he said.