Manchester City vs Southampton: Match preview and predicted line-ups

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are without a win in four in all competitions, and host buoyant Southampton on Sunday looking to get back to winning ways. Having won his first 10 competitive matches in charge, people have been waiting to pounce on the first sign of adversity for Guardiola in England. For some, his rigid instance of playing out from the back and constant tactical manoeuvrings are evidence he is too clever for his own good. For others, he has completely transformed an underperforming squad and has them playing the most dominant football in the country within a few months of his arrival. Regardless of this range of opinion, City need a win and have a presentable opportunity to get one against Southampton at Eastlands.

Not that it will be easy, because Claude Puel’s Southampton have started to hit their straps in recent weeks. They had a slow start to the campaign under the Frenchman, but have started picking up wins and are going well in the Europa League too. Outside of the ‘Big Six’, Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte is probably the best centre back pairing in the top flight (some Saints fans might argue they are the best full stop). The enigmatic Dusan Tadic has been in good form, Charlie Austin is scoring goals and Nathan Redmond is stretching defences with his speed.

 

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City missed two penalties as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Ronald Koeman’s Everton last week, but played some excellent football in that game using their new 3-2-2-3 system. Prior to the in the Premier League, they were blown away by Spurs who inflicted their first defeat of the season. Guardiola’s side come into this game after a 4-0 defeat at Barcelona, a result that may have been skewed by Claudio Bravo’s red card. Since going down to a last minute penalty at Arsenal last month, Southampton have beaten West Ham, Swansea and Burnley and picked up a point at Leicester.

Expected line-ups

Manchester City starting XI                                                                                  Southampton starting XI

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Injuries and Suspensions

Bacary Sagna and Fabian Delph remained sidelined for City, and Pablo Zabaleta still has to assessed but could return. Jeremy Pied and Cedric Soares are long-term absentees for the visitors while left backs Ryan Bertrand and Matt Targett are also unlikely to make the trip to the north west. Nathan Redmond faces a fitness test due to a knock, but should be fine to start.

Conclusion

 

City may have stopped winning in their last few outings, but the quality of their football is still there. They would have beaten Everton quite comfortably on another day, and adapted to their new formation seamlessly. Even against Barcelona in the Camp Nou, they created chances and played some promising stuff.

Southampton must be the top flight’s most underrated side; only Spurs and Arsenal have accumulated more league points in this calendar year. They are an athletic and technically sound outfit, but this will be an exacting test for them. Particularly at the Etihad, City are dominating matched and creating chances a plenty, so they should have too much for Puel’s side. Southampton will also have to recover quickly from a Thursday night game against Internazionale in the San Siro.

Verdict: Home Win.

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