Southampton vs Manchester City Preview: Guardiola’s men aim to close gap on Liverpool 
(Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Man City via Getty Images)

Southampton vs Manchester City Preview: Guardiola’s men aim to close gap on Liverpool 

Manchester City will travel to Southampton to face the South-coasters on Sunday afternoon. 

Josh Slinger

Manchester City have lost their last two Premier League encounters, and now suddenly sit a huge 10 points behind league leaders Liverpool

A victory in this one would see Pep Guardiola’s side move above Tottenham Hotspur and into second, although this won’t be easy against a newly managed and in form Southampton

“Perfect performance” required 

The new Saints boss, Ralph Hasenhuttl, has said that his side will have to display the “perfect performance” in order to make it three defeats in a row for the Citizens. 

The south-coasters have been playing more attractive football, whilst also getting results, since hiring the former Red Bull Leipzig boss, although defeat to West Ham United last time out will have put a dampener on the mood at St Mary’s. 

Hasenhuttl spoke further, “It's not normal for Manchester City to lose two times in a row.” He started, “We expect the most difficult challenge that is possible. If we want to keep something in St Mary's we have to play a perfect performance.”

Mario Lemina is a doubt for the home side, whilst Ryan Bertrand has been ruled out. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will return from suspension. 

Southampton predicted XI: McCarthy; Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard; Valery, Hojbjerg, Romeu, Targett; Redmond, Ings, Armstrong. 

Fernandinho to return? 

One of the clear reasons for City’s drop in form has been the gap left by the injured Fernandinho, who could return in this one. 

Despite losing three of their last four, Guardiola has spoken about the confidence he has in his side. 

"The less important issue is Liverpool, we have to think about Southampton.” Started the Spaniard. “I don't forget who we are, how good a team we are, how exceptional these lads I have in the locker room are.”

Guardiola then went on into further detail, "The reality is we have lost three in four games and the last two. If you want to be real contenders you have to win again. If you don't, it will not be possible."

Fabian Delph will miss the game through suspension following his red card picked up vs Leicester City, whilst Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo are also unavailable due to injury. 

Man City predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Bernardo, de Bruyne; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling. 

Last time these sides faced each other, City ran out 6-1 winners, following an early blitz of the Southampton goal, which saw them three up inside 20 minutes. 

With the recent ongoings both on and off the pitch for both clubs, it is unlikely that a similar scoreline will repeat itself, and Guardiola’s men are likely to have to work much harder in order to get the crucial three points and cut the gap on Liverpool.