Saints round off their first batch of 2012-13 Barclays Premier League fixtures with a home game against title hopefuls Manchester United on Sunday.
Nigel Adkins’ men are still looking for their first top-flight points having been beaten by Manchester City and Wigan in their opening two games.
But a morale-boosting Capital One Cup win over Stevenage in midweek will have given them cause for optimism going into this weekend’s sold-out fixture.
It has been a mixed start to the 2012-13 campaign for United, who lost their first game when they were beaten at Everton.
But Robin van Persie’s first goal for the club inspired them to a 3-2 win over Fulham last Saturday to get their season off and running.
This is the last Premier League fixture before the upcoming international break, so both teams will be desperate to round off their first month on a high.
Tadanari Lee capped his first 90-minute appearance since returning from a foot injury by scoring the opener at Stevenage on Tuesday, so could well be involved this weekend.
First Team Manager Adkins made eleven changes to his team at the Lamex Stadium and may bring a number of those players he rested back into his team against United.
Midfielder Jack Cork is close to returning after the ankle injury he suffered in pre-season.
The Red Devils hope to welcome centre-half Jonny Evans back to help soothe the defensive crisis that has led to midfielder Michael Carrick being used at the back.
Wayne Rooney will likely miss out due to the nasty gashed thigh he suffered in last weekend’s win over Fulham.
The two teams have been regular adversaries down the years, facing off 90 times in the league since their first meeting in 1923.
Of those 90 encounters, Saints have come out on top 23 times, drawn on 21 occasions and been beaten on 46.
Our last win over the Red Devils came exactly nine years ago today, when James Beattie’s goal was enough to earn Saints a 1-0 victory at St Mary’s.
We have faced United on six occasions in all competitions since that date, coming out on the losing side every time.
The last time Sir Alex Ferguson’s team came to Southampton was in the fourth round of the FA Cup back in January 2011.
Saints went in front on the stroke of half time through Richard Chaplow in that game, but goals from Michael Owen and Javier Hernandez saw the eventual semi-finalists narrowly through.
There have been plenty of memorable matches between the two sides, many of which we revisited on Saints Player this week.
Perhaps the most famous is our 6-3 win over United at the Dell in October 1996 thanks to an Egil Ostenstad hat-trick, Eyal Berkovic’s brace and a Matt Le Tissier strike.
Sunday’s referee is Mike Dean, who will be assisted by Jake Collin and John Brooks. Mark Halsey is the fourth official.
This match is now sold out so there will be no tickets available ahead of kick off. The game is being broadcast live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1HD as part of their Super Sunday coverage from 1pm.
Saints Player and saintsfc.co.uk will have plenty of pre-match coverage over the next 48 hours. Nigel Adkins and Adam Lallana’s comments on Sunday’s match will be available later today, while we will also hear from Nathaniel Clyne on Sunday morning.
There will be plenty more coverage following the game, too, with exclusive footage and interviews online soon after full time.