Rooney v Lovren - The key to Manchester United winning this weekend

Could the battle between Wayne Rooney and Southampton defender Dejan Lovren be the key to success on Saturday.

Of all the summer transfers one that is not receiving the attention it deserves is Southampton’s signing of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren.

The imposing central defender was snapped up for £8.5 million from Lyon - and it has turned out to be a bargain.

He has steadied what was a rocky Southampton defence last term, forming a strong defensive partnership alongside Jose Fonte.

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Lovren has the basic characteristics of the archetypal Premier League defender. Tall, strong and emphatic in the air - but there is certainly more to this player than just an ‘old school’ centre back.

He is adept on either foot, and happy with the ball on the ground - while his reading of the game and tackling proficiency have been, in my opinion, second to none in the Premier League this season.

Yes, Lovren is arguably the best central defender in the league at the moment.

In terms of current form, Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has a case for the best at the top end of the pitch.

Ever since putting his differences with the club behind him and focusing on the future he has been a key figure for United this term, outshining last season’s star performer Robin Van Persie in the process.

United welcome The Saints to Old Trafford tomorrow, with both players fit and ready to play in a fixture which, over the years has become something of a banana skin for the Red Devils - the infamous 6-3 comes to mind.

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Southampton will be a threat, but the key to success at Old Trafford will be stopping United from scoring. Lovren will be tasked with controlling the threat of Rooney when possible. Rooney not only offers an individual threat, but he brings players into the game more than his strike-partner.

Stopping the stream from Rooney is essential if Southampton are to earn anything from this game, and that job will fall at the feet of their ever impressive central defender Dejan Lovren.

And whoever comes out on top is likely to be on the winning side.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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