Manchester United secured their first back-to-back win in the Premier League since February by securing a hard-fought win over Southampton today at St. Marys.
Today’s encounter started in a low-key manner but did eventually explode into life on 18 minutes after a chaotic passage of play in the Saints six-yard box. Firstly young Irish goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu produced a full-length stop to deny Anthony Elanga from close range before Kyle Walker-Peters cleared off the line, and finally, the impressive Armel Bella-Kotchap pulled off a sensational block to deny Christian Eriksen when it looked odds on that the Dane would score.
On the half-hour mark Southampton finally threatened the Red Devils’ goal, with Bella-Ketchap firing over from four yards out after a James Ward-Prowse corner before the lively Che Adams then stung David de Gea’s palms from the edge of the area.
At the beginning of the second period, Manchester United started the much brighter of the two sides and on 54 minutes they would take the lead through their skipper Bruno Fernandes. A slick passing move by Erik Ten Hag’s side ended in Diogo Dalot firing a pullback across the Saints area for Fernandes to finish brilliantly, first time and on the volley.
United failed to kick on and take control of the game though, and it was Southampton who began to dominate, and the home side pinned their opponents back as they sustained attack after attack. Despite their endeavour and the impressive set-piece delivery of Ward-Prowse, the Saints struggled to break down a resolute United defence and a Joe Aribo header that was expertly saved by de Gea was as close as the South Coast outfit would come to equalising.
Speaking afterwards Fernandes revealed that he feels the disastrous 4-0 defeat to Brentford marked a turning point for this United squad.
“I could and should have scored in the first half, but I got my chance in the second half and I’m really happy for my first goal of the season,” Fernandes told the BBC.
“They pushed us all game. We know the way they play. They are strong, intense and it’s always tough to play against them, but we did what we have to do. Now it’s about building and winning more games.
“I felt a big change in the group after Brentford. I felt straight away in training that we wanted to make a change in the way we play and in our results.
“We said before the game today that we set the standard high against Liverpool and not to drop below that standard.”