1 – Zlatan is on fire
Of course, two of the four games that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s four appearances for Manchester United have been in friendlies, but in those four games, the big Swede has found the net three times; once with an acrobatic effort against Galatasaray, once with a late header against Leicester City and most recently with a low long-range drive against Bournemouth last weekend. Point being that so far, Ibrahimovic hasn’t missed a beat since joining United, dispelling the notion that the 34-year old couldn’t offer enough for the club in the twilight of his career. Of course, Ibrahimovic needs to keep such scoring records up to disprove the naysayers, but with good service from the players around him, you wouldn’t bet against further success in front of goal.
2 – United will want revenge
Southampton have run out winners at Old Trafford in this fixture for the last two seasons, courtesy of Dušan Tadić’s strike in 2015 and Charlie Austin’s late header in January of this year. United were far from their best on both occasions, and were booed off the pitch after this calendar year’s earlier meeting. Plenty of members of the first team squad will be dying to set the record straight when it comes to this fixture.
3 – Pogba will be raring to go
Having spent his first week back at Manchester United building up his fitness having been suspended for Sunday’s game against Bournemouth, Paul Pogba must be chomping at the bit to get his United career restarted. After this £89m transfer from Juventus, the Frenchman will be raring to go and to make a big statement that he is worth the fee. What better time and place than under the Old Trafford floodlights on Friday night?
4 – Mourinho has United playing winning football
Neither the 1-2 win against Leicester City of the 1-3 win over Bournemouth were vintage performances; United didn’t create a massive amount of chances in either game, but they won, and in Sunday’s game, won with a minimum of fuss. Most of the credit goes to Jose Mourinho for implementing a better gameplan, one that doesn’t invoke sterile dominance but encourages forward passing, and it should prove too much for Claude Puel’s men on Friday.
5 – United are scoring goals again
Having registers just 49 goals last campaign in the Premier League, there are already signs, however early on in this season we may be, that United are a more confident side. Last Sunday was a good example; Juan Mata chasing down a lost cause to score the first, Wayne Rooney heading in Anthony Martial’s miss-hit strike and Ibrahimovic’s low drive were all very different goals but pointed towards a United side that are taking more risks in attack, working harder and aren’t afraid to shoot the ball. Above all else at this point, that’s perhaps the most encouraging thing fans have seen on the pitch since Van Gaal’s departure.