Manchester City v Southampton Preview: Can Guardiola's in-form players overcome the Saints?

Manchester City v Southampton Preview: Can Guardiola's in-form players overcome the Saints?

Both managers go into this midweek Premier League fixture on the back of convincing victories, and will be eager to fulfil their potential in this encounter.

Ryan White

Pep Guardiola is anticipating another fierce game as the Premier League enters the midweek schedule and Southampton provide the opposition as Manchester City entertain Mauricio Pellegrino's players at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. 

The visitors, who have spent much of the last month in the bottom half of the league table, moved into the top ten last Sunday when they were able to convert four chances past a downbeat Everton squad at St. Mary's to play out a 4-1 score line, with rejuvenated attacker Charlie Austin grabbing a brace. 

Meanwhile, the Premier League leaders, still unbeaten, had to claim three points at the weekend the hard way when they went a goal behind on the road at Huddersfield Town, but two second-half finishes were enough for Manchester City to sustain their eight point lead over nearest titles rivals United. 

Both sets of players are locking horns on the back of confidence boosters and as we approach the hectic December schedule, the two managerial camps will be eager to rack up the win in the final round of fixtures of this month. 

City suffering defensives fragilities 

Despite their fiery opening four or so months to the 2017/18 campaign, Manchester City's defence is becoming increasingly weak with the absences of John Stones, whose joined full-back Benjamin Mendy in the long-term injury sidelines. Other than that, Guardiola has very little to be concerned about prior to kick-off and it's possible he may start an unnamed starting line-up to the team which played against Huddersfield on Sunday.












Romeu back

As for the Saints, they have two midfielders back in the frame to return to the starting eleven as Oriol Romeu has served his one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards this season and Mario Lemina, who made a late appearance off the bench at the weekend in an attempt to regain fitness, may feature in the matchday squad as he fights back his place after an injury lay-off. Pellegrino has announced that youthful prospect Matt Targett is the only definite absence from the team travelling to the north-west. 

Charlie Austin could continue to lead the line for Southampton following his double on Sunday during the triumph over Everton. 

Manchester City have only dropped a measly two points from a possible 39 - coming in the home draw to Everton back in August - and a total of just eight goals have been shipped by the Premier League table toppers, only Manchester United has conceded less. 













Pep calm

Pep Guardiola, in his second campaign at the Etihad, is remaining calm and confident prior to the game on Wednesday evening, ''we trained today and prepare mentally for Southampton. We are focused on what we have to do tomorrow evening.''

The former FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has especially been praised with the strides Raheem Sterling is making this term and Guardiola has responded to those comments; ''Sterling is still young and there are a lot of things he can do better.''

​On the other side, Southampton are expecting to be the underdogs but Mauricio Pellegrino reckons the weekend result at home to Everton could be enough to spring a surprise in the north-west in their midweek fixture, ''the Everton game can help us to play with more confidence, especially at home where I think we've been unfortunate at times. We must build on that brilliant result now against Manchester City.''

City topping recent head-to-head record

The hosts have certainly got the form edge beforehand with just one defeat to Southampton in their last eight meetings - coming in a 4-2 loss on the south coast in 2016. However, the two-time top-flight winners won the most recent encounter back in April when second-half goals from Sergio AgüeroLeroy Sané and Vincent Kompany were enough to claim the win. 

Claude Puel, in charge at the time, was able to take away a point in the last game between these sides at the Etihad as a Kelechi Iheanacho equaliser cancelled out Nathan Redmond's opener