Manchester City travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday, looking to close the gap on Arsenal at the top of the table.
Ruben Selles’ side were held to a frustrating draw by West Ham United at the London Stadium in their last outing, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the standings.
With just four points separating them from 17th-placed Nottingham Forest, they will be hoping their situation doesn’t get any worse as defending champions storm Hampshire.
Pep Guardiola’s side enter the clash on the back of a resounding 4-1 victory over Liverpool last Saturday, extending their winning streak to seven games in all competitions.
The Cityzens will feel more than capable of extending that run a little further but coming up against the desperate Saints could prove a tricky clash.
Guardiola’s side may have forgotten what it feels like to lose, but last weekend’s thumping success over Jurgen Klopp’s oilless red machines sent a message to the rest of the division.
It looked destined to be another closely fought encounter when Mohamed Salah and Julian Alvarez cancelled each other out in the opening 45 minutes.
However, cut in half like a hot knife through butter, Liverpool were torn apart by the reigning champions following a sub-par second-half display from the Merseysiders at the Etihad Stadium.
Kevin De Bruyne gave the Cityzens the lead as they flew out of the blocks after the half-time interval, with Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish completing the rout to ensure they kept pace with league leaders Arsenal.
Man City remain eight points behind the Gunners, albeit with a game in hand, but victory over the toothless Saints at the weekend will pile the pressure on Mikel Arteta’s side to deliver as the title race heats up.
Having won their last seven games on the trot, there is a valid sense of optimism that the run can be stretched as the Cityzens have won four of their previous six away league games against Southampton (D1, L1).
Saturday’s encounter also gives Guardiola’s side the perfect platform to rectify last season’s result in this particular fixture, where they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s.
Having won their last four league matches in a row, City are surprisingly on their longest winning run of the season and could extend it to five for the first time since April/May last year.
Man City also boast an impeccable record against teams starting the day at the bottom of the table, having won their last ten such meetings – a run stretching back to March 2016.
Nayef Aguerd’s header condemned the Saints to defeat last time out, and the odds are firmly stacked against Selles’ side, who have it all to do in their quest to avoid the drop.
Since winning two of their first three league matches under the Spanish manager (L1), Southampton are winless in their last four (D2, L2), failing to score in three of those games.
While struggling to score goals has been a problem for the Saints, they have also failed to run a tight ship at the back, managing just seven clean sheets in their last 43 league games in front of their supporters.
Only one of those have come this season – the fewest of any team in the division.
However, whatever resurgence they have planned is unlikely to start against Man City, having won just one of their last 13 league matches against this weekend’s opponents (D3, L9).
Premier League form
Manchester City: DWWWW
Che Adams and Mohammed Salisu picked up injuries while on international duty, so they remain sidelined along with Valentino Livramento, who is still recovering from an ACL injury, and Juan Larios, who is out for the rest of the season.
Armel Bella-Kotchap will need to be assessed after picking up a shoulder injury just seven minutes into the draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Guardiola will be delighted to have Erling Braut Haaland back and available after recovering from a groin injury that saw him miss international duty.
Although the Norwegian was not missed in the victory over Liverpool as Julian Alvarez made his mark and could keep his spot in the starting 11 should this clash come too soon for the former Borussia Dortmund man.
Phil Foden remains unavailable as he recovers from appendix surgery, but should not prove a big miss with Grealish and Riyad Mahrez delivering the goods on either flank.
Southampton possible starting line-up:
(4-4-2): Gavin Bazunu; Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Duje Caleta-Car, Romain Perraud; Stuart Armstrong, James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia, Mohamed Elyounoussi; Theo Walcott, Kamaldeen Sulemana.
Manchester City possible starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Ederson; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake; Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan; Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez, Jack Grealish.
How to Watch?
Southampton vs Man City, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
We Say: Southampton 0-4 Manchester City
Following their emphatic victory last time out, Man City are expected to continue their title hunt with another resounding success over the relegation battlers.
Haaland’s return should also boost those aspirations, with the Norwegian superstar looking to add to his tally of 28 league goals for the season.
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