The FourFourTwo Preview: Southampton vs Man City

Premier League | Etihad Stadium | Sat 7 Dec | 3pm

Billed as

The game they really should have put on television this weekend. 

The lowdown

Defeats at Arsenal and Chelsea were forgivable for Southampton. Losing at home to Aston Villa? Not so much. Fabian Delph’s crackerjack winner was worthy of its decisiveness at St Mary's, but that won’t cut it with Mauricio Pochettino.

SOUTHAMPTON FORM

  • Southampton 2-3 Villa (Prem)
  • Chelsea 3-1 Southampton (Prem)
  • Arsenal 2-0 Southampton (Prem)
  • Southampton 4-1 Hull (Prem)
  • S'land 2-1 Southampton (LC)

MAN CITY FORM

  • West Brom 2-3 Man City (Prem)
  • Man City 3-0 Swansea (Prem)
  • Man City 4-2 Viktoria Plzen (CL)
  • Man City 6-0 Spurs (Prem)
  • Sunderland 1-0 Man City (Prem)

The Argentine now has the task of pulling the south-coast side back on its feet after three defeats on the spin, but with games against Newcastle and Tottenham coming up before Christmas, it seems an uphill task. 

You write them off at your peril, though. Jay Rodriguez is improving with every game (two goals in two), Steve Davis completed a season-high 112 passes on Wednesday night and Italy international Dani Osvaldo finally capitalised on some key link-up play with partner Rickie Lambert too. 
 
The Saints haven’t lost four in a row since the start of last season as a newly-promoted side, and should take heart from their super start to the season when welcoming Manuel Pellegrini’s free-scoring Citizens to St Mary’s on Saturday.
 
OK, so Manchester City are about as welcome as Charles Bronson at a Nobel Peace Prize-giving ceremony right now. They added another three goals to their bulging 40-strong tally on Wednesday against West Brom, and also welcomed back skipper Vincent Kompany from injury. Not a bad night’s work.
 
That they conceded two late goals was inconsequential for the former champions, who were just pleased to etch a ‘W’ into the away formbook after managing just one in the six before that. 
 
It’s now four victories in a row for Pellegrini’s men, for whom Sergio Aguero is shining spectacularly having netted at least once in 11 of his last 14 games. City are still leaking goals but with their influential captain back in action that should improve soon enough. 

Team news

Victor Wanyama and Nathaniel Clyne suffered knocks against Villa (whatever that means), while Gaston Ramirez is ill. Crucially, though, Morgan Schneiderlin (groin) is also sidelined having missed out in midweek. Artur Boruc (hand), Kelvin Davis (back) and Guly do Prado (knee) are unavailable once more.
 
For City, Matija Nastasic’s absence (calf) gives Joleon Lescott another chance, but the game will come too soon for David Silva (calf) and Stevan Jovetic (err, also calf - what gives?). 

Key battle: Paulo Gazzaniga vs Sergio Aguero

Saturday's match will once again see Gazzaniga deputise for the injured Boruc in Southampton's goal. The Argentine stopper started against Villa on Wednesday night, when the West Midlands side scored with all of their shots on target. Up against him this time is compatriot Aguero in ominous form. The City forward has bagged 16 times in his last 14 matches, and hit the target with all 5 of his shots against Tottenham two weeks ago. The Southampton stand-in will need to be at his best – and then some.

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • So'ton 3-1 City (Prem, Feb 13)
  • City 3-2 So'ton (Prem, Aug 12)
  • City 3-1 So'ton (FAC, Jan 07)
  • City 2-1 So'ton (Prem, Jan 05)
  • So'ton 0-0 City (Prem, Oct 04)

The managers

A pair of South Americans who have taken to life in the Premier League rather swimmingly – when it comes to home form, at least. Both have captured the hearts of neutrals with their swashbuckling brands of appealing football, Pochettino with his version of continental pressing and Pellegrini’s emphasis on not-giving-a-monkey’s-because-we’ll-score-loads-more-than-you policy. 
 
Another new meeting – expect warm smiles, handshakes and the obligatory post-match compliment. Pochettino is probably just chuffed he's got somebody other than his translator to chat to. 

Facts and figures

Tips and trends

TIPS & TRENDS

Sponsored by BetButler.co.uk

  • Southampton have not lost 4 on the spin since the start of last season. This fixture last year marked Mauricio Pochettino’s first win as Southampton boss.
  • The Saints have managed just 2 clean sheets in the 17 matches Artur Boruc has missed since he joined, while they have kept 11 clean sheets in the 31 games he has started.
  • Manchester City haven’t recorded consecutive away wins since January. They have scored more goals than anyone in the division (40) but 6 of their last 9 trips to top-half opposition have provided fewer than 3 goals.
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FourFourTwo prediction

Not the inhumane annihilation City have been accustomed to this season, but they should squeeze through for all three points with injuries affecting the hosts. 1-2.  

Southampton vs Man City LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone


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