Ronald Koeman does not need to be told how tough leading Southampton into Premier League combat with Manchester United will be.
He has seen his side come unstuck against Manchester City and Arsenal in recent weeks, and now faces another heavyweight test.
Koeman will likely relish a managerial duel with his fellow Dutchman, but it is another man from his homeland who is causing him the greatest concern ahead of Monday’s meeting at St Mary’s.
Robin van Persie has faced criticism for his performances of late, with only four goals scored this season, but there is no chance of Southampton underestimating the former Arsenal man if he is to figure on the south coast.
Koeman said: “Robin is one of the best strikers. He showed that and scored a great goal against Hull.
“If you are a player at the highest level and you are not scoring or the team is not winning you know you will get criticised.
“He is a great player and is one of the best Dutch strikers we have but hopefully he will have another quiet game against Southampton.”
|Goals||Total Scoring Att||Ontarget Scoring Att||Big Chance Missed||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Robin van Persie||4||31||16||4||13||1,083|
The Saints have the defensive resources to keep Van Persie ‘quiet’, with Koeman’s men still boasting the best record in the division in terms of goals conceded.
The problem facing them in their next outing is that they cannot afford to focus on just one man.
Keeping Van Persie at arm’s length will undoubtedly aid their cause, but Wayne Rooney is ready to make a return to top-flight action and the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata will also pose plenty of problems.