Saints to march out with win?

Saints to march out with win?
Southampton's English midfielder Adam Lallana (L) vies with West Ham United's Irish defender Joey O'Brien (R) during the English Premier League football match.

As prolific forwards prepare to meet an impenetrable defence, something has to give.

As a team in ninth spot play one in fourth, it is in the unusual situation where Southampton, nicknamed The Saints, can look down the league table and spy Manchester United beneath them.

Yet, whatever problems the Red Devils have had, their strikers have kept on scoring. Between them, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney already have 19 goals this season, 11 for their club.

Southampton have conceded only twice in the Premier League. With goalkeeper Artur Boruc and centre-back Dejan Lovren excelling, they have taken frugality to a new level.

Indeed, in the first seven games of the season in Europe's top five divisions, only one defence - Roma's - was breached fewer times.

It is all the more remarkable as Southampton have a rather attacking approach to defending.

Because while there is a temptation to bill this as the clash of the irresistible force (the United strikers) and the immovable object (the Saints rearguard), the reality is that their five clean sheets are a product not of sitting deep, but of manager Mauricio Pochettino's pressing game.

The midfielders and forwards will try to win the ball back near the opposition goal. It is an approach that requires collective commitment. It will also make it harder for United to dictate the tempo of the game.

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