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Manchester United Face Southampton Banana Skin

Ferguson has plenty of experience with this type of fixture

Manchester United will get a brief rest from the pressure of the Premier League with a tricky little trip down to the South coast.

United come off the back of an impressive win away at Blackpool in a match where they were 2-0 down after the first-half. This will mean that confidence within the squad is high regardless of the number of changes Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to make for this match.

Ferguson has encountered this sort of match many times during his career as United manager. Although changes will happen, there are still going to be a number of strong players in the eleven against Southampton, a former Premier League club. It will not be easy.

The basic formation of the defence should stay the same. John O’Shea could come into the side to play a central position or to play on the right of the defence. Fabio Da Silva could be asked to take Patrice Evra’s place at left back while it is unlikely that Rio Ferdinand will be risked in this game.

One of Jonny Evans or Chris Smalling will come into the side to take Ferdinand’s place. Either are good enough to fill the middle of the defence although Smalling’s poor performance in the first half against Blackpool may cost him the nod for this game.

There will be plenty of changes in the midfield as Ferguson will want to get a good blend of experience and youth into the middle of the team. Ryan Giggs may start the game although it seems likely that Darron Gibson will be given another chance after disappointing against Blackpool. Anderson should come back into central midfield.

Michael Carrick or Darren Fletcher will have to play as the defensive minded player in midfield. Southampton have nothing to lose and will attack from the off, which means the United defence will need some extra help and cover.

The obvious change to be made to an established two man attack is Javier Hernandez coming in for Wayne Rooney. Rooney will not like this but the little Mexican has taken his chances in the side when they have been handed to him. His goal against Blackpool was crucial and he will be very unlucky not to start in a 4-4-2.

Dimitar Berbatov cannot be dropped, regardless of the match or competition, considering he has scored five goals in two games, is in the best form of his career and finally seems to be enjoying himself in a Manchester United shirt.

On the injury front the only guaranteed absentees will be Antonio Valencia and Owen Hargreaves. The likes of Ferdinand and Paul Scholes are still dealing with slight knocks and that could mean Ferguson decides to leave them at home for this match.

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