The Premier League has long been touted as the world's most competitive league.
On any given weekend, any club in England's top flight can take the scalp of one of the world's elite, as the parity in the Premier League is unlike that of any league in the world.
With that being said, this weekend could prove to be a very interesting one, as a matchup with particular appeal has emerged as one to watch.
This Saturday, we see a clash that involves everyone's favorite red title contender.
This is a team with a prolific scorer and a big-money purchase looking to make a name at his new club.
This is a team that has already shown that it can compete with the elite with strong defending and timely scoring.
Let's get one thing straight: Southampton are overachieving. They are a high-to-mid-table club with a burst of form that's carried them as high as fourth in the Premier League where they currently look down on Manchester City, Tottenham and their weekend opponents, United.
Manchester United are certainly favorites. Throw recent results out the window. This is a team with more quality than most, as any team spearheaded by Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney belongs nowhere near ninth.
According to SkyBet, lines on United are at 8/15, giving them the deserved nod in this matchup.
However, anyone who expects United to waltz into Old Trafford and take down the upstart Saints should review some game-tape, as Southampton have already shown exactly what they are capable of.
The Saints have been consistently good all season with no game being more evident of their abilities than their September 21st toppling of Liverpool.
The Reds, who see themselves at the top of the table, have only lost twice since March, both at the hands of—you guessed it—Southampton.
The thing you have to realize is that the Saints are getting better. The big-money addition of Pablo Osvaldo is a major deal for a club of Southampton's stature.
The summer signing of Victor Wanyama will prove to be beneficial, as the former Celtic man has proven he can score big goals with his historic finish against Barcelona. Even 31-year-old Rickie Lambert is seemingly getting better, as the Saints striker has scored twice for England in his first three call-ups.
On the other hand, there's United.
What the Adnan Januzaj has been happening in Manchester this season?
Last time we saw the Red Devils, they were being bailed out by the 18-year-old wonderkid, who has already been anointed as "next."
Fergie looms large over his former home, giving David Moyes a seat which must have been burning his bottom from the second he sat on it.
Moyes was never going to have an easy transition, but the beginning to the Scot's United tenure has been nothing short of a nightmare.
The losses to West Brom and City were both unacceptable. The Red Devils have no business losing to the mediocre-at-best Baggies, and the drubbing they received from their noisy neighbors is never something supporters should be expected to tolerate.
Early season results aside, this is a talented team. They are still one of England—and Europe's—elite clubs. They have talent, but can they put it together?
This week also presents United with another particular challenge, as the international break has given Southampton a bit of an upper hand.
United have a laundry list of internationals, while the Saints, quite frankly, do not. Midweek games for United's internationals tend to make for tired legs, while most of Southampton's squad will have had weeks to prepare for anything United can throw at them.
With that being said, United cannot and better not approach this game like they have gone after many this season. The United that we have seen in the first fifth of the season is in for a long day if they can't right the ship in time for this weekend's battle.
At the end of the day, United are United. They are still one of the world's top clubs.
But they better shape up, because—as the song says—the Saints are coming and they're going to be ready.
Who do you think will win this weekend's matchup between Southampton and United? Comment below with your predicted score and goalscorers or tweet @R_Tolmich for banter/discussion.
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