It's fair to say that this Manchester City side will go into Saturday's fixture somewhat less upbeat than hoped for, as last weekend's 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool was the heaviest defeat the Citizens had suffered since they had moved to then City of Manchester Stadium in 2003. The form of the current side is a world away from the one that started out the campaign this year, their last win coming in the form of a narrow 2-1 victory at home to Norwich, nearly a month ago.
City will need to attack the game with Southampton - who unlike City - have won three of their last five fixtures (one draw, one loss). A win for the Saints would put them within touching distance of the top four sides in the League, a refreshing barometer of the progress that Ronald Koeman has overseen at St. Mary's recently.
Manchester City will be full of confidence with Sergio Agüero back and firing, scoring their only goal during the frustrating defeat to Liverpool, an excellent finish it must be said, although it was sadly meaningless in terms of the final result. David Silva (ankle) will be looking to make a return this weekend too, 'El Mago' will undoubtedly be hoping to resume the form he enjoyed before the international break, seven assists and one goal in seven appearances. This weekend may also see the return of Wilfried Bony who has been kept out recently with a hamstring injury that forced him off during the goalless draw with Remi Garde's Aston Villa. You'd naturally expect the Ivorian to be eagerly anticipating his chance to get in amongst the goals again, after a frustrating injury-laden spell at Eastlands thus far.
However no soon as one player is back, another is injured it seems. This time it's Joe Hart, who made way for Willy Caballero in Wednesday's Champions League clash, ten minutes before full-time. An estimated two/three weeks on the sidelines is the verdict, with yes you guessed it, another hamstring injury, something that's become a running theme at City recently.
Vincent Kompany was declared unfit for this weekend, facing a further two weeks' recovery. The captain's presence is something that has been desperately missed, which is something that former blue Frank Lampard recently highlighted in the media.
In terms of stats, City have only conceded one in 720 minutes with the captain on the field. Without him, they've conceded twelve in 405 minutes of football - which is a stark difference for sure.
Club manager Ronald Koeman confirmed earlier this week that Jay Rodriguez underwent surgery this week, meaning he'll be out for a further two months at least, after a horrible eighteen month spell in terms of injuries. Aside from Rodriguez the only other notable absentees, Fraser Forster and Florin Gardos. will not be returning for at least four months and eight weeks respectively, but with that being said, Southampton boast one of the lowest injury lists in the Premier league with just three first-team players currently unavailable for selection.
What they're saying
Manuel Pellegrini will be desperate for a solid performance tomorrow after City's abysmal week following their hard-fought battle in Turin and their capitulation against Liverpool, but was positive about the return of David Silva. "It’s important to have David back - he is a very important player, the same as Kun. It’s very difficult to replace him. David gives us a different way of playing – we have good possession against teams with eight or nine players of theirs behind the ball and David is the player with the most accurate passes in the final third."
On the matter of Joe Hart, the gaffer showed his faith in Argentine second-choice Willy Caballero, saying that he "never complains" about injuries, especially as he trusts Caballero "a lot", and is sure that he'll perform well. "Maybe Willy made a mistake against Spurs but every goalkeeper makes mistakes - Joe did against Norwich. Willy played very well in the Capital One Cup - he’s a very experienced player."
Ronald Koeman says the impending Capital One Cup quarter-final against Liverpool will not distract his thinking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Manchester City. "We know about the Capital One Cup, it's a quarter-final and we would like to win something, but that starts after Saturday.
Koeman acknowledged it will be a tough period, but also one that he and his players are looking forward to, adding that the focus is only on City at this stage. "We take one at a time, because that's the best way to have that tough week," he also said.
I feel as though both sides will go into the fixture with the intent to secure all three points - City moreso of course, after their two consecutive defeats against Liverpool and Juventus within the space of a week. If they are to strengthen their title credentials, they'll need to impress against a side who continue to develop despite selling many of their key players, as Southampton love the underdog tag and can certainly pose a viable threat for Manuel Pellegrini's men to contain.
Silva may not play the full 90 minutes, so I'd expect the attacking foursome of Raheem Sterling, Jesús Navas, Kevin de Bruyne and Agüero to start from kick-off. Dušan Tadić loves to create things in midfield, and City need to keep him quiet to maintain a solid performance in all areas of the field, but it's never that ease.
I predict a narrow, hard-fought victory for the hosts.