• Charley Longden

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Southampton Preview

After Manchester City’s destructive display against Copenhagen in the week, the Premier League champions now set their sights on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton. Saturday’s match is set to kick off at 15:00 (BST) and will not be televised live in the United Kingdom.

City have been in exhilarating form as of late, having won five matches in a row, scoring 20 goals, and only conceding four. The Blues are going into Saturday’s fixture on the back of an incredible 5-0 victory, in which they dominated in all areas of the pitch. City had 76% possession against the Danish side and completed 851 passes with an accuracy of 93%.

 

Team News and Predicted XI


In the aftermath of City’s midweek victory, it was revealed that Kyle Walker has had surgery on a groin injury and is now a doubt for England at the World Cup, although no definitive time scale has been provided. A major blow for the England international and Pep Guardiola.

Photo courtesy of Michael Regan/Getty Images

John Stones will likely also be unavailable for the match against Southampton after suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty. Guardiola has suggested that Stones’ injury isn’t as bad as first feared, with the 28-year-old expected back in the next week. City fans will be hoping to see Stones back as soon as possible, with a huge match against Liverpool on the horizon.


Kalvin Phillips will also be unavailable for Saturday’s match after undergoing surgery on his shoulder. His return date is still unknown.


With Walker out of action for the foreseeable future, Sergio Gomez will likely be utilised a lot more. The Spaniard was excellent against Copenhagen, he had 115 touches of the ball, made 14 passes into the final third and had four shots. The 22-year-old also proved his defensive capabilities, as he was not dribbled past once the entire match.

With City being 3-0 up at halftime, Guardiola jumped at the chance to give his Norwegian goal-scoring machine some much-deserved rest. Erling Haaland was on the scoresheet twice in the first half against Copenhagen, meaning he now has 19 goals in all competitions this season for City. It took Haaland just 1628 minutes to be directly involved in 30 Champions League goals (27 goals, 3 assists) which is a goal involvement every 54.3 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Michael Steele/Getty Images

With Rodri being declared unavailable against Manchester United and on the bench against Copenhagen, City’s skipper Ilkay Gundogan has proven his worth by stepping into the Spaniard's boots. Gundogan was superb yet again in the week, the German international completed 116 passes with an accuracy of 95.7%. The 31-year-old also proved his ability in defensive situations, winning possession five times with a 100% tackle success rate. Guardiola will be keen for the club to tie Gundogan down to a new contract with his current deal expiring in June 2023.


Fixtures are coming thick and fast for the English champions, meaning that rotation will be a key factor in success over the next few weeks. City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne was rested on Wednesday night, meaning he is likely to return to the starting line-up this weekend. De Bruyne has ten assists in all competitions this season and now has 94 assists in his Premier League career. The Belgian is now joint fifth for all-time assists in the Premier League with Dennis Bergkamp.


England international Phil Foden was also rested in the week, following his unforgettable derby day hat-trick. The 22-year-old is having an excellent season so far, having scored six goals and provided three assists in all competitions, meaning he is City’s 2nd highest scorer this season behind Erling Haaland. Foden is the youngest player to reach 50 goals under Guardiola, surpassing Lionel Messi. Like De Bruyne, Foden will likely return to the starting lineup in this weekend's Premier League fixture.

Jack Grealish was awarded man of the match against Copenhagen following another excellent performance from the England international. Grealish completed 68 accurate passes with an accuracy of 91.9%, made four key passes and won four ground duels. The 27-year-old has been in fine form as of late and has been rewarded with five starts in a row.


Predicted XI:


Ederson, Cancelo, Akanji, Dias, Gomez, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Foden, Haaland, Grealish

Photo courtesy of Michael Regan/Getty Images
 

Opposition


Form: LLLWL

League position: 16th

Top scorer: Che Adams & Joe Aribo (2)

Previous result: L 1-2 vs Everton (H)


Southampton have struggled over recent weeks and have lost four of their last five matches. The Saints' most recent match was a 2-1 defeat to Everton. Joe Aribo opened the scoring for the home side and took the lead in the 49th minute. Celebrations, however, were cut short when Southampton found themselves 2-1 down just five minutes later. Conor Coady and Dwight McNeil were on the scoresheet for the Toffees, and it turned out their goals were enough to seal the points for the travelling side.

Despite a bleak run of form, Southampton are still only three points behind Liverpool. A couple of good results for Hasenhuttl’s side will soon change the mood around Saint Mary’s Stadium.

Although Southampton’s recent form has not been overly impressive, Guardiola will be very cautious of this fixture. Last season Southampton held City to a draw both home and away in the league, being defensively compact in both matches and offering a decent threat at times in attack.


Hasenhuttl will be hoping his side can replicate the performance they displayed against Chelsea at the end of August. Southampton beat Thomas Tuchel’s side 2-1 at Saint Mary’s Stadium, with ex-City starlet Romeo Lavia scoring Southampton’s first, and Adam Armstrong finding the winner.

Lavia was one of four players Southampton signed from the Etihad Stadium in the summer transfer window, with Gavin Bazunu, Sam Edozie and Juan Larios also joining the Saints from the champions of England.

Photo courtesy of Warren Little/Getty Images
 

Head-to-Head


Played: 98

Won: 39

Drawn: 27

Lost: 32


Throughout history, City are just edging Southampton with seven more wins in this fixture. However, Southampton have seen a fair share of success in this fixture, holding City to a draw twice last season and beating the Blues 1-0 in July 2020 in the league.


Other than those three matches, City have been largely dominant over Southampton in recent history. The Blues have won 10 of the last 13 meetings between these two sides in all competitions, including a 5-2 victory at the Etihad in March 2021 and a 6-1 home victory in November 2018.

The first time these two sides met was in February 1910, a 5-0 victory for City in the second round of the FA Cup at The Dell.


The last time that Southampton were victorious over City at the Etihad Stadium was in April 2004 when Kevin Keegan was the manager of the Blues. A 3-1 win for Southampton.

 

Officials


Referee: Andy Madley

Assistants: Derek Eaton & Steve Meredith

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Lee Mason

Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn

Photo courtesy of JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
 

Written by: @CharleyLongden


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