Premier League football returns this weekend with Saints making the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off.
Following a two week break from domestic action for international matches, the focus returns to club football for the Southampton squad. 11 players departed the south coast to represent their nations over the past fortnight
Saints gave themselves the perfect send-off to the recent break by notching up their third consecutive league win and fourth successive clean sheet with a 2-0 win over Swansea City at St Mary’s.
That victory put the team into fourth position in the Barclays Premier League after seven games played, keeping them within two points of league leaders, Arsenal.
Saturday’s fixture is Saints’ first away from home for almost a month having not been on the road since Dejan Lovren’s header secured a 1-0 win at Anfield in September.
Back in January, Saints were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford, but the visitors were unfortunate to see the one goal lead given to them by Jay Rodriguez’s early strike end up as a consolation. United hit back through a brace of strikes from Wayne Rooney before half-time, but were under pressure for much of the second half.
After the game, Sir Alex Ferguson conceded that the league leaders were a little lucky to take all three points: “In the second half, Southampton have been the best team to play here this season,” he said. “We were fortunate to win the game. They pushed on top of us and didn't give us any time on the ball."
Although still early days under new manager David Moyes, this time around United sit in ninth place with ten points recorded from their opening seven fixtures. They were also victorious last time out, taking a 2-1 win at Sunderland made famous by two strikes from Adnan Januzaj.
Prior to that, a defeat by West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford made the natives restless, though with two further home games to come after this weekend, United will be hoping to get back on track at Old Trafford swiftly.
Mauricio Pochettino said in his pre-match press conference that both Artur Boruc and Luke Shaw had trained this week and are each in contention for this weekend’s game.
Gaston Ramirez was due back in Southampton last night having had a later kick-off than the other international fixtures that took place this week.
United’s international players were on form over the break, with strike pair Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie each on target for their respective nations.
However, van Persie is a doubt after being withdrawn at half-time of Holland's game against Turkey on Tuesday. Midfielder Tom Cleverley is likely to miss out with a knock whilst Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez will also be monitored after their international exertions.
"I think all games in the Premier League are exciting, and this is a very good chance for us to show what we can do as a team.
"It's going to be very difficult but we are going there with a positive mentality.
"I think both teams have changed since we last played them and I am very happy with how the squad is performing these days.
"They have a new manager who is trying to establish his ideas after many, many years of Sir Alex Ferguson leading the team.
"Change is never easy but it's clear that they have very good players and we will be facing a very tough team."
"Sometimes you get the international break on the back of a bad result and sometimes off a good result. We went into it with a good result.
"It's always a concern, especially when you have so many players away like we do. I'll monitor training, one or two are nursing knocks so we'll need to look at it but hopefully they will be okay."
At Old Trafford, this contest favours the Red Devils, with Saints last winning there only once in the last 19 attempts. The last Southampton success there came in 1988 with a 2-0 victory, thanks to a brace of goals from Colin Clarke.
The last league game prior to the 2012/13 season saw United claim a 2-1 victory in May 2005 which brought the curtain down on Southampton’s 27 year stay in the top-flight.
Whilst Saints were outside of the top-flight for seven seasons, the two teams twice met in the FA Cup, both times at St Mary’s, and both times won by the visitors.
Last year, Saints were on the end of two narrow defeats starting with a 3-2 loss at St Mary’s. Rickie Lambert opened the scoring, and Morgan Schneiderlin headed the hosts into a 2-1 lead after Robin van Persie had levelled up. United’s Dutch striker would see his second half penalty saved by Kelvin Davis, but went on to have the last laugh with two further strikes late on to seal a stunning comeback victory.
It was 2-1 at Old Trafford in January when Jay Rodriguez’s third minute opener was cancelled out, and then beaten by a pair of strikes from Wayne Rooney before half-time.
Saturday’s game is the 113th all-time meeting between the two teams. United have the upper hand with 59 victories to Saints’ 25. A further 28 games have ended all square.
Mike Jones will referee Saturday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr G Beswick and Mr I Hussin. Roger East is the fourth official.
As with every First Team game, we'll be providing minute-by-minute coverage throughout the day on our official Twitter feed plus goal updates on our official Facebook page.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Mauricio Pochettino and Steven Davis spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews, as well as the gaffer’s press conference in full now.
After the match there will be plenty more content on saintsfc.co.uk and Saints Player, so stay tuned!
And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in our Matchday Magazine for the visit of Fulham.