Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to help Manchester United rediscover their “mojo” and “spark” before hosting Southampton on Tuesday.
United enjoyed a 13-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League to emerge as title contenders before last week’s double game against Sheffield United and Arsenal.
But Solskjaer’s men took only one point from those two games, losing sensationally at home to the Blades, the basement side of the division.
United are still in the mix in second place, but rivals Manchester City have a three-point lead with a game in hand yet to be played.
“There hasn’t been time to do much in training camp,” Solskjaer said. “The guys who played are still on the recovery track on Saturday, but they have to prepare for tomorrow’s game – it’s right in the middle for them.
“The session was light but they scored some goals. We want to recover that mojo, that spark.
“We have created enough chances to score goals, now it’s about feeling good, taking a deep breath and getting the ball between the posts.
“We want to keep trying to dominate the games. We need a little shine, a spark in the last third and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Mid-week opponents Southampton also need to improve in the final third as they failed to score in five of their last seven league games.
But Chief Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “It’s not so much to worry about if you have the opportunities and don’t.
“Man City won 1-0, Palace won 1-0, Manchester United and Arsenal drew 0-0, so we are not the only team at the moment having trouble scoring.
“But I see that we are creating a lot of chances and it is only a matter of time before we score again, so I am not worried at the moment.”
PLAYERS TO SEE
Manchester United – Edinson Cavani
Cavani played a pivotal role in both teams meeting earlier this season, scoring two and assisting the other in United’s 3-2 win. If he scores two or more again this week, he would become the first United player to score at least twice in consecutive Premier League games against the same opponent since Cristiano Ronaldo against West Ham in October 2008.
Southampton – James Ward-Prowse
England midfielder Ward-Prowse is well established as a free kick specialist, scoring on a set piece against United in November. Another direct free kick goal on Tuesday would make this the Premier League match with the most such goals. Southampton versus United are tied with Liverpool versus United at eight as is.
OPTA KEY FACTS
– Manchester United are undefeated in their last nine Premier League meetings with Southampton (four wins and five draws), although they are looking to complete their first league double over them since their 2012-13 title-winning campaign.
– Having lost 13 of their first 14 away matches in the Premier League against United (D1), Southampton have lost just two of their last seven visits to Old Trafford (W2 D3).
– United have come back to win 10 different Premier League matches against Southampton, including a 3-2 win in the reverse match at St Mary’s this season. No team has come back to beat another more often in the history of the competition (United also 10 vs Newcastle United).
– United have lost four of their 10 Premier League home games so far this season (four wins and two draws); it’s already the third-highest number of home losses the Red Devils have suffered in a single Premier League campaign, after 2001-02 (six) 2013-14 (seven).
– Southampton have lost their last three Premier League games, more than in their previous 15 (eight wins, five losses, two losses). They last lost four in a row in the competition in April 2018.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.