Hello. Before we begin, let us consider the following from Arsene Wenger on today's I-want-it-now society.
There are instant reactions on every single media. Our society has moved from a bit of distance with events to a highly emotional society, because there is a straight-away reaction from the whole society on every single event that happens. We have moved from a thinking society to an emotional society and we have to live with that."
Leaving aside the possibility that, well, he's talking about the likes of me, he's not exactly wrong. As Robert Green has found at QPR, there is an increasing demand in football for instant results, patience no longer a virtue but a hindrance. Wenger and Sam Allardyce rarely see eye to eye, but the West Ham manager delievered a similar message earlier this week about the need to give players and teams time - even when they make mistakes - before they are written off as "crap" by supporters and media. You never know, it might just catch on. Although don't hold me to that.
Wenger's comment caught my eye when looking at the start Southampton have made. Two games, two defeats, a goal difference of -3. It's all gone wrong. Southampton are in crisis. Nigel Adkins out! Bring back Stuart Gray! Or Steve Wigley. Those looking for mischief could, if they were so inclined, note that last season Southampton scored the most goals at home in the Championship and this year they haven't even scored one. Whatever happened to Southampton's home form?
Losing their first home game back in the Premier League to Wigan was indeed worrying and no one's going to be surprised if it's three defeats in three once Manchester United have been and gone. But even then, it would be too early to tell. Look at this way, similar things were being said about Swansea and Norwich last season. It took Swansea five games to score a goal. Norwich didn't win a game until the end of September. Both ended up fine and while it doesn't necessarily follow that Southampton will emulate them this year it's still early to panic. We'll hold off saying Arsene Knows, but he might be on to something.
Team news: Would you look at that, Manchester United have some defenders, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand reunited at long last. And Jonny Evans is on the bench too - what riches! It means Michael Carrick no longer has to play in defence, moving up alongside Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa in a midfield three. There's no Wayne Rooney, of course. But there is Robin van Persie. Southampton have a neat, attacking midfield that will keep the ball down and play, though there doesn't appear to be much steel there. Their big new signing, Gaston Ramirez, didn't arrive in time to be included in the squad.
Southampton: K Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, S Davis, Puncheon, Lallana; Lambert. Subs: Gazzaniga, Rodriguez, Lee, Guly, Richardson, Mayuka, Seaborne.
Manchester United: Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa; Valencia, Van Persie, Welbeck. Subs: De Gea, Evans, Giggs, Hernandez, Nani, Scholes, Powell.
Referee: Mike Dean.
This fixture is of course never complete without a mention of those grey shirts. A real fashion faux pas, up there with cardigans and red trousers.
Our first email. "That was quite an introduction," says Simon McMahon. "Yesterday we had Scott Murray riffing on Animal Farm in his preamble and today we get Arsene channelling Socrates (the philosopher, not the player) in yours. What next? Richard Dawkins assessing the merits of tiki-taka? Archbishop Desmond Tutu on two banks of four?"
Joey Barton on the impact the false nine has had on the world economy.
Here come the football teams. Southampton are in red, tiny white stripes running down their tops. What's that all about? Manchester United are in
grey white. "All that philosophy and De Gea dropped for one mistake," says Gary Naylor. "Funny Old Game eh?" To be fair, I just think Ferguson can't stop tinkering.
Off we go. It's Manchester United, attacking from left to right, who get us underway. There are still empty seats inside St Mary's, a puzzling sight. Carrick, Cleverley and Welbeck keep the ball in a little triangle between themselves, much to the chagrin of Mr Roy, who's been spouting about the evils of possession this morning. Oh Mr Roy! "I really liked those grey jerseys, possibly because i was a quiet child and they kept me out of sight," says David Flynn. "I thought they might become collectors items some day, unfortunately my mum had a clear out of the attic some years ago and they fell victim to her ruthless cleaning streak."
2 min: Valencia scampers down the right flank and wins a corner off Fox. Van Persie's corner is cleared but Rafael is on the attack again and is fouled by Fox, who was poor against Manchester City two weeks ago. Could they be targeting him? Naughty Manchester United!
4 min: "I'm outraged," says an outraged Simon Jessop. "As a man who wears both cardigans and red trousers, sometimes simultaneously, to describe such items as a "fashion faux pas" surely illustrates you are out of touch with the look of the day. More importantly is anyone else glad the premierleague has started so we can get over the syrupy goodness of the Olympics and paralympics. As soon as the season started I lost all interest in sitting volleyball or the mobot - the Olympics filled a nice sports shaped whole in the summer but we all know we'd choose a wet night in Stoke over watching some cack in the Olympic stadium? Who is with me?" Red trousers are only outdone by denim shorts.
5 min: Manchester United have started very strongly. It could be a long afternoon for Southampton, who are yet to gain much of a foothold in the game. Carrick dinks a cute pass into the right side of the area for Van Persie, whose outrageous first-time backheel just evades Kagawa. They look very slick going forward. Which isn't exactly news, is it.
6 min: The Carrick-Van Persie combination clicks again. Carrick was further out again and spots Van Persie peeling off to the left. He Alex Songs a gorgeous pass towards him. Van Persie controls on his chest but is off balance as he shoots, dragging a volley well wide with his left foot. "Hmm, what about *pink* trousers?" says Ryan Dunne. "It's famously the best colour for butch-yet-metro guys to rock!"
9 min: Ward-Prowse bursts past Vidic with a lovely turn on the right flank but Lindegaard reads the danger and races out of his area to boot it clear. Moments later, the strength of Lambert has the returning Ferdinand all in a flap and he needs the covering Vidic to bail him out. Southampton should be encouraged by those moments, because they've looked a little cowed in these opening stages.
12 min: Welbeck playing on the left is a strange decision by Ferguson, especially as Ryan Giggs and Nani are on the bench. He was lost there against Everton and hasn't made much of an impact there so far this afternoon. "With United having apparently switched to a 4-2-3-1 and Kagawa and Van Persie settling well into their favoured respective positions as the support striker in the middle of the bank of three and the lone central striker, the obvious question is: where will Rooney play?" says SB Tang. "My theory: Fergie will drop him back into the bank of two as a deeper lying central midfielder with a brief to pass. It might explain Fergie's otherwise inexplicable reluctance to buy central midfielders." There might be a nice comfy space on the bench reserved for Mr Rooney unless he pulls his finger out sharpish.
14 min: A great chance for Southampton goes begging. They've improved markedly in the last few minutes and, with their tails up, won a fortunate corner on the right. United's defenders gathered around Lindegaard, expecting Southampton to pile in on him, so Fox and Lallana worked the old Anderton-Sheringham routine, only for Lallana to rush his shot and scuff wide of the right post from 12 yards out. United got away with one there. They were completely caught cold.
GOAL! Southampton 1-0 Manchester United (Lambert, 16 min): Rickie Lambert did this so many times in the Championship last season and now he's done it in the Premier League. Against Manchester United. After their shaky start, Southampton had found their feet and were increasingly pushing United back with their high-tempo approach. United didn't heed the warning, trying to play the ball out from the back and that proved costly as a sluggish Kagawa was robbed by Schneiderlin. He moved the ball out to the right for Puncheon, who cut back on to his left foot and hung up a cross to the far post towards Lambert, who'd pulled on to the much smaller Rafael. It was no contest at all and Lambert directed a perfect header back across goal and into the bottom right corner, Lindegaard utterly helpless. Lambert's gone and stolen Andy Carroll's Big Man Thunder. United can't even blame a grey kit for this.
19 min: Both Manchester United and Manchester City have looked so vulnerable defensively at the start of this season. Meanwhile Arsenal are yet to concede a goal.
21 min: This has all the potential to turn into a very good game indeed. Now it's Southampton's turn to lose the ball in their own half, allowing Kagawa to have a low drive from 30 yards out. Somewhat unconvincingly, Kelvin Davis turns it past the left post.
GOAL! Southampton 1-1 Manchester United (Van Persie, 23 min): I was getting ready to describe a goal soon as the ball started heading in the direction of Robin van Persie, who has his second goal for Manchester United, although Southampton will be devastated with the manner of this equaliser because it was so preventable. Valencia drifted a defendable cross to the far post which should have been dealt with by Clyne. Instead he slipped, Van Persie chested it down, the Jaws music started playing and from the left of the area he hammered a volley emphatically past Kelvin Davis.
25 min: Undeterred by that setback, Southampton immediately pour forward. Lallana finds space on the left and when his cross is only half-cleared to the edge of the area, Lambert goes for a spectacular volley which wasn't too far wide of the right post. Continue in this manner and he's going to score a hatful of goals this season. The lazy comparison would be with Grant Holt and that's precisely the one I'm going to make. I fancy he's got more to his game than Holt though.
27 min: Lambert and Van Persie are taking it in turns to go for goal. This time it's Van Persie who tries his luck, his curler flying over from 25 yards out.
29 min: An error from Danny Fox leads to a lightning break down the right from Valencia, which ultimately ends with Fonte bringing down Welbeck inside the D. It looks primed for Van Persie to score his second, but after an interminable wait for the Southampton fans, he dinks a tame effort past the left post.
31 min: "What's wrong with denim shorts?!" says Craig Stewart, for whom there is no hope. "Has it changed again? My confidence has been shot by this faux-pas news. I suddenly feel like a child in full Utd kit in a disco full of Southampton fans. Any tips?" Don't wear denim shorts.
33 min: A lull, for about two seconds. This isn't good enough, teams! "I don't know why, but until this match I never noticed how tall Van Persie is," notes Luke Garratt. "Are there more shorter people playing? Or does he just not have the weight of a team on his shoulders anymore?" You say that but he's had to score two equalisers for them already this season.
34 min: More neat one-touch football from Southampton offers Lallana a shooting opportunity but his effort from 25 yards out dribbles not too far wide of the left post. They're playing very well and that's without their new record signing.
38 min: United, without really going anywhere, are enjoying a concerted spell of possession. They still seem a bit lopsided with Welbeck on the left and can't get Kagawa in the game. The scores are level but I make Southampton the better team. "Please make Craig Stewart feel better by telling him that my brother has been known to wear not only denim shorts but dungarees too," says Simon McMahon. Mind you, it was 1990 and a 'Strangeways - It's a Riot' T-shirt completed the look."
40 min: But you should never think you're comfortable against Manchester United. Valencia sends a cross to the right and Clyne, or Bambi on Ice as we may have to start calling him, falls over again and allows Evra to bring a save out of Davis with a powerful downward header.
43 min: Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Make them stop, Mr Roy!
44 min: "I have it on good authority, i.e. from my daughter a Japanese linguist, that Kagawa translates as 'fragrant river'," says Mark Judd. "Just thought I'd impart that knowledge." What do other things in Japanese mean?
45 min+1: Carrick looks for Van Persie over the top again but his attempt to control the ball and shoot sees it clang off the top of his knee and out for a goal-kick. What a waste of money.
Half time: Southampton 1-1 Manchester United. Mike Dean brings an entertaining first half to a close. Southampton will be delighted with their contribution but conscious that United can improve significantly. That Robin van Persie's not bad, is he?
Half time emails.
"Jean shorts are now known as 'Jorts' in my part of the world," says Beau Giles. "There are also 'Jeggings', denim looking leggings, which may be end of fashion."
"Gah, Fergie's clearly not listening to us," says SB Tang. :Look at the positions Welbeck's taking up when United are in possession: he keeps crowding out Kagawa and Van Persie in the middle. On the plus side, he's tracking back responsibly when United are out of possession, which might explain his inclusion ahead of Nani (often accused — unfairly in my eyes — of not tracking back) and Giggs (too old to track back)."
"Mention of Strangeways has me reminiscing somewhat," says Lee Murphy. "I have family in Manchester and was there during the infamous riots. My Dad drove us up there (possibly the Mancunian Way) so that we could watch as events unfolded. I've since moved to Zagreb and here they jail their corrupt politicians. Oh how us Western Europeans could learn from our Slavic brethren. Hope Andy Carroll recovers in time to keep West Ham's season on track. Liverpool must feel foolish (more so than usual) for leaving him go."
"Clynegawa means slipping Bambi..." parps Chris McVandi.
"Rooney, pronounced ru-ni in japanese means pregnant whale," says (former Middlesbrough and Derby defender?) Chris Riggott, making me LOL out loud.
46 min: Off we go again but before we get to the football, some big news hot off the press: I'll be writing the fashion column in tomorrow's G2. Ask Steinberg. I'd just like to thank the Guardian for such a wonderful opportunity. Thanks Guardian!
47 min: Lambert drifts on to Rafael again but this time he can't take the ball down and get a shot away. United have to find a way to prevent this though, or else they'll be in bother. "Your picture of a slightly quizzical Matt Le Tissier made me wonder if he is asking himself if any of the players on display today are in his league," says Seamus Devlin. "I mean, does Giggs rate Nani? Does Sir Alex rate Mancini? Does Jools Holland rate Elton John on the Joanna? I want to know." He probably rates Van Persie.
49 min: Kagawa and Van Persie link up beautifully and the Fragrant River fires just wide of the right post from the edge of the area. "If it is He [Chris Riggott], please ask why he never emptied his fridge when he moved out of his house in Harrogate when playing for Middlesbrough?" asks Fraser Thomas. "My mate bought the house and couldn't believe it. Also he never switched the electricity."
51 min: Puncheon, impressive so far, drifts inside from the right but sees his shot blocked by Carrick.
52 min: Nemanja Vidic is having all sorts of problems trying to contain Lambert. He's just given away his second free-kick of the game by clambering all over the big striker in an attempt to get to the ball near the centre circle. The resulting free-kick comes to nothing.
54 min: Southampton nearly shoot themselves in the foot by trying to play out from the back in the grand Brendan Rodgers style. Kelvin Davis, the big galoot, passes it straight to Valencia on the right. He charges forward and slides it across to Van Persie, who astonishingly skews his left-footer wide from 15 yards out. What a miss. What a let-off.
GOAL! Southampton 2-1 Manchester United (Schneiderlin, 55 min): Manchester United pay for Van Persie's wastefulness immediately! Incredibly each goal today has come because of abject defending from the respective full-backs, although this time Lambert was the provider instead of the scorer. He drifted over on to the left flank, cut inside on to his right foot and swung a delicious cross into the middle where Schneiderlin escaped the attentions of Evra, who slipped and fell over, landing in an embarrassed heap and watching helplessly as the midfielder put a low header past Lindegaard!
58 min: Southampton want to kill this off now. The excellent Puncheon twists and turns and diddles past Evra on the right side of the area, but Lindegaard pushes his low shot past the near post. United are rocking here.
59 min: Yes, Southampton have worked out the way to score and United don't appear to have much of an answer. Steve Davis stabs a cross towards Lambert from the right. This time Rafael does well to head clear.
60 min: United are getting ready to bring on Paul Scholes and Nani. There are quite a few candidates to be removed.
61 min: Puncheon powers into the area on the left but hammers one high and wide from a tight angle. United respond by replacing Kagawa and Cleverley for Scholes and Nani. They've gone to a straight 4-4-2. The Welbeck experiment out wide has not worked.
62 min: As below-par as United have been, Van Persie looks like he could score at a moment's notice. Scholes makes an impact straight away, picking out his run to the left with a fine slide-rule pass, the right side of the Southampton defence cut to shreds. Van Persie was just forced a tad wide though and Davis did brilliantly to block his shot. He might have to make a few more saves of that calibre.
65 min: Apologies if the updates are taking a bit of time to show up, the system is creaking more than the Manchester United defence this afternoon. While I was waiting for the previous entry to publish, Evra had to make a smart tackle to prevent Lallana from getting a clear shot on goal.
66 min: "Dear Jacob. What's the colour to look out for this season?" says Simon McMahon. "I can't decide between red or blue." Black is the new black.
67 min: Manchester United are being run ragged by Southampton on the break. Lambert beats the offside trap on the right, reaches the byline but his low ball across the face of goal, intended for young Ward-Prowse, is blocked by Ferdinand crucially.
68 min: PENALTY TO MANCHESTER UNITED! Kelvin Davis got away with one earlier, but this time he's punished for a terrible pass out from the back to the full extent. Nani seized on the error and found Van Persie who was taken out by a dismal tackle from behind by Hooiveld. Oh Kelvin.
69 min: OH KELVIN!!! Van Persie steps up and produces the worst Panenka of all time, soft and telegraphed, and Kelvin Davis atones for his error by clawing it away. Although I could have saved that, it was so pathetic. He basically just had to lie on the ground and wait for the ball to arrive.
70 min: That's the second penalty Davis has saved already this season by the way and they've both been awful: he also saved a horrific one from David Silva. Anyway, United are stung and Van Persie tries to make up for that miss but smashes a shot over from the right side of the area.
73 min: United are huffing and puffing but to little effect. "I see that LOCOG still haven't solved the problem of the Olympic Family not taking up their full allocation of seats at St Mary's," says Fraser Thomas. "A disgrace."
75 min: Emmanuel Mayuka comes on for his Southampton debut, replacing Jason Puncheon. Guly Do Prado is also on for Rickie Lambert.
76 min: Where's the reaction from Manchester United? Where's the drive? Where's that character?
77 min: While I was pondering that, Javier Hernandez, the man for just such an occasion, replaced the anonymous Danny Welbeck,
78 min: How could Van Persie think that was an appropriate time to produce a Panenka? You're not James Bond.
79 min: Jay Rodriguez, another summer signing, replaces Adam Lallana.
80 min: A tweet from Robin van Persie from 24 June: "Pirlo!"
81 min: Nani's inswinger is awkwardly sliced over his own bar by Steve Davis. The corner comes to nothing, Nani deciding now would be the most opportune time to find Rafael on the edge of the area. Let's put it this way, he's no Paul Scholes.
82 min: Southampton have taken on both Manchester sides and you can't say they have been inferior in either game. Which makes last week's defeat to Wigan all the more curious. "Pirlo's panenka at the Euro was so cool everybody now wants to copy it," says Fritz. "The thing is, all the keepers are aware of it too. It's never going to work again. Hope you are happy now, Andrea." The moment to do a Panenka is when you want to embarrass a gurning Joe Hart. Admittedly that is often.
85 min: With a degree of inevitability, Southampton are now pinned back inside their own half. It's a case of anywhere will do now...
86 min: Scholes clips a cross to the far post but Hernandez's header across goal flies wide. "Panenkas are football's version of Nigel Tufnel's maxim about there being a thin line between clever and stupid," says Steven Hughes.
87 min: What a tackle from Nathaniel Clyne! Hernandez looked poised to equalise from close range having wriggled past Fonte, but Clyne denied him at the expense of a corner at the vital moment. But...
GOAL! Southampton 2-2 Manchester United (Van Persie, 87 min): Southampton could only hang on for so long and Manchester United get themselves out of jail. Rafael was allowed too much time to send a cross in and Ferdinand was completely unmarked in the middle. His header took a deflection off Fonte, confounding Kelvin Davis and hit the post, coming back out for Van Persie to stab home from close range. No one will be more relieved than him.
90 min: It's not Manchester United looking for a third goal, it's Southampton, who have forced a succession of corners. United were under severe pressure, but they just about deal with it.
90 min+4: In the first of four minutes of added time, Hernandez drills a few yards wide of the left post from 25 yards out.
HAT-TRICK GOAL! Southampton 2-3 Manchester United (Van Persie, 90 min+2): Manchester United have a last-gasp 3-2 win of their own to savour now. Take that, Manchester City! United won a corner on the left, Fonte hacking behind haphazardly from a Van Persie cross. With Southampton's fans barely able to watch, Nani swung it in to the near post where Van Persie directed an awesome header high past the desperate Kelvin Davis. That is an outstanding finish and they might just forgive him that ridiculous penalty miss. He's only gone and got a hat-trick after all. Southampton are crestfallen.
90 min+4: Rio Ferdinand takes a huge risk by putting his hands on the back of a Southampton player in the area but Mike Dean waves away appeals for a penalty.
Full time: Southampton 2-3 Manchester United. Manchester United were 2-1 down with three minutes to go. Five minutes later, they were 3-2 up thanks to a hat-trick from Robin van Persie. There's a new hero in town. How do they keep pulling this off? United were well below their best today but they've still won. As they do. They know they were in one hell of a game though. Despite their heartbreak, there's warm applause from the home fans for Southampton's performance. They were so close. Now they know what the Premier League is all about. They're still without a point but should feel mightily encouraged about what the season holds in store for them. I forget who said it but the quote "Not everything is right when you win and not everything is wrong when you lose" feels rather pertinent right now. Thanks for reading. Bye.