Manchester City have had a difficult week, losing against Liverpool and Juventus, raising concerns again about their ability to win in big matches. They are still seen as title favourites by many, but they need a strong winter period to assert themselves as the dominant force in the division. This weekend they are coming up against a strong Southampton side, who will be wanting to consolidate as a top half side. Saints went to Stamford Bridge earlier this season and put in a really good performance to take three points. They have the ability to do the same at Manchester City and given the poor week City have had, it isn’t beyond Southampton to go there and get a positive result.
City are currently sitting in third position and have gone off the boil recently and haven’t been able to consistently win games. They began the season in fine form and established themselves as the side to beat, but they have failed to capitalise on that. In their last four matches, City have only managed to win once and have seen Leicester City and Manchester United leap ahead of them in the league. They are starting to get players back from injury, with Sergio Aguero coming back being particularly important, especially given Wilfried Bony has also been missing for City.
After such a good first season, Ronald Koeman was always going to struggle to replicate his early success. However, they are currently sitting in 8th position, which gives them a platform to push for the European places for a second season in a row. Southampton have a brilliant business model that continues to give the club success, especially when it comes to recruitment. Saints sold Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne in the summer, while they also lost Toby Alderweireld, but they have replaced them and have continued to get results. The defeat to Stoke was their first in seven matches and that highlights how difficult they are to beat.
In this fixture last season, Manchester City won 2-0 thanks to goals from Frank Lampard and Sergio Aguero. Meanwhile in the reverse fixture, a magnificent second half performance gave the points to City once again. On that day, Yaya Toure, Lampard and Gael Clichy were the men to give Manchester City a crucial victory. City desperately need to return to winning ways this weekend and they will be hoping that they continue their good form against Southampton.
Manchester City have struggled in front of goal recently, scoring only three goals in their last four matches.
Southampton have conceded only six in their last seven matches, showing their quality at the back and they will be difficult to break down this weekend.
Sergio Aguero has had a lot of injury problems in recent years and he needs to be managed better by Pellegrini to stop him from missing so many matches. There is no question that Aguero is key to Manchester City and he is arguably the best player in the division, which is why many think City will win the league if they get the Argentinian on the pitch for the majority of matches. He has the ability to dominate matches and he was finding his stride before his injury, managing to score an incredible five times against Newcastle. He has seven goals so far this season and will be looking to break twenty again if he stays fit. His ability to run with the ball and beat defenders is a major part of his game, but his movement and quality in the box is why he is feared. If City get him chances and they will with both Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva in the side, he will score goals. Although City have a very talented attacking trio in those two and Raheem Sterling, they do miss a lot when they don’t have Aguero in the side and that has been highlighted in their recent run. He will be very important on Saturday as City have struggled to score in their last three matches and Aguero will provide that.
The Dutchman has been a wonderful signing and has replaced Toby Alderweireld with ease and highlights just how effective the recruitment policy is at St Mary’s Stadium. He has a dominant physique which allows him to dominate in the air at both ends, while he is also very good with his feet, as would be expected from a Dutchman. Many would say he has stood out for Southampton this season with his consistent performances and has shown that he could be another who moves onto bigger things in the future. He has been excellent defensively, winning 5.6 aerial duels per match and making some key interceptions at the back. The centre-back has scored twice already for his new club and that shows the danger he poses in the opposition box from set pieces and that will be a concern for Manchester City this weekend.
Joe Hart will be missing which means Willy Caballero will start this weekend. Pablo Zabaleta and Eliaquim Mangala are both doubts. Wilfried Bony and David Silva could return this Saturday. Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri are still some time away from a return to action.
Southampton have no new injury concerns going into their trip to Manchester City. Jay Rodriguez, Florian Gardos and Fraser Forster are all unavailable and won’t return until 2016, which is a blow for the club.
I expect Manchester City to win this weekend, especially if David Silva returns to the squad as he has been sorely missed. Kevin de Bruyne has been a wonderful signing, but he has yet to be able to dominate matches like Silva can. Southampton have also lost their unbeaten streak, so they won’t be traveling to City in the highest spirits. It’s difficult to call a game a must win, but it’s crucial for City to not let this run of form carry on for long as teams around them will be picking up points. City have had a disappointing week, but at home, they should still beat the majority of the sides in the league comfortably. I expect them to score a few goals this weekend too.
Manchester City 3-0 Southampton