Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Southampton vs Manchester City Preview
A trip to St Mary's awaits Pep Guardiola's men as they head to the south coast to face Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton. After a semi-final exit last season, Manchester City will be looking to go one better, and to do so will need to beat a Southampton side that have been a problematic opposition this season. The match is on Sunday the 19th of March and will kick off at 15:00 (GMT) – the game will be broadcast live on BBC One.
Ruben Dias is seemingly the only absentee for the game. This is usually a game where the squad would be rotated, but with the international break next week, the usual suspects will likely get the nod. Guardiola did not use Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus against Crystal Palace on Monday evening, so it would not be a shock to see one or both of them start. Another position to keep an eye on is goalkeeper, as Zack Steffen has just returned from injury and usually plays in the domestic cup competitions.
Steffen, Walker, Stones, Ake, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Mahrez, Foden, Sterling
League position: 1st
Top scorer: Mahrez, Sterling (10)
Last result: D 0-0 v Crystal Palace (A)
It was the first time since 2016 that City have drawn 0-0 twice in a row; the Blues played well against Palace but ultimately could not score the crucial goal to take home the three points. The league leaders were dominant in possession, having 74% of the ball. City also managed 19 shots, 4 of which were on target. Guardiola’s men should have had the breakthrough on multiple occasions, but no chance better than Bernardo Silva's when Jack Grealish smashed the ball across the Palace goal – however, Silva could only poke the ball wide. After Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 on Wednesday, the gap in the league is now just one point, in favour of the Blues.
The last time City met Southampton, things didn’t go to plan. Kyle Walker-Peters scored a fantastic goal after 7 minutes. An equaliser from Aymeric Laporte after 65 minutes meant that the points were shared for the second time this season. Guardiola's men will be looking to get back to winning ways and progress into a fifth FA Cup semi-final in seven seasons.
With Ruben Dias being ruled out for the next few weeks, it is pivotal that John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Aké command the backline. Stones and Laporte kept another clean sheet together against Palace on Monday evening. Any of the three centre-backs could start, but Nathan Aké has been the preferred option in the FA Cup so far this season, so it would make sense if he kept his place. Aké picked up his only booking of the season in the FA Cup this season, so the Netherlands international will have to keep to his excellent disciplinary record if City are going to have control of what will be a tight affair.
With Liverpool, Chelsea and Crystal Palace left in the FA Cup, the league leaders do not have an easy route to winning the competition. Beating Southampton is not only important to progress to the semi-final, but also to pick up a much-needed win to try and start some much-needed momentum entering the crunch time of the season. The pressure is constantly rising for the Blues, and they will yet again need to hold their nerve and make sure that they put in a good performance against a tricky Southampton side.
League position: 10th
Top scorer: Che Adams (7)
Last result: L 1-2 v Watford (H)
Southampton have struggled recently, losing 3 out of their last 5 matches in all competitions. The Saints' most recent match was a 2-1 home loss against Watford, in which Cucho Hernandez scored twice. Hasenhuttl's men have been a good FA Cup team, as they reached the semi-final last season and will be looking to do so again.
Southampton will be full of confidence going into the game against City after drawing against them twice in the league this season. The game at St Mary's being a match in which Hasenhuttl got his tactics exactly right and the Southampton players put in a top performance, in particular Mohammed Salisu. The Saints will be hoping they can replicate this on Sunday afternoon and continue to have something to play for this season, as they are comfortably safe from relegation.
Many had tipped Southampton to struggle this season, especially after the departure of Danny Ings in the summer. However, the squad looks revitalised with the addition of young exciting prospects from Chelsea – 19-year-old Tino Livramento and 20-year-old Armando Broja, with the former being signed permanently and the latter on-loan, respectively.
Armando Broja has looked a constant standout all season, scoring 9 goals and providing 1 assist in all competitions. On loan from Chelsea, the Albanian has made a good impression on the Premier League this season, and there are rumours that Chelsea are considering bringing him back to compete with Romelu Lukaku. The forward has been involved in four goals in five domestic cup appearances for Southampton this season, including two off the bench in the FA Cup, setting up a goal against Coventry and scoring against West Ham.
The first time these two sides met was in February 1910, a 5-0 win for Manchester City in the FA Cup. Sixteen years later, however, Southampton got their revenge in an enthralling 4-3 win, in Division Two, at Maine Road. The last time the Blues faced Southampton in the FA Cup was in 2007 when City came out as 3-1 winners. Southampton took the lead with Kenwyne Jones after 23 minutes, but goals from Darius Vassel, Joey Barton and DaMarcus Beasley secured the 3-1 victory.
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Ian Hussin & Edward Smart
Fourth official: Simon Hooper
VAR: Andre Marriner
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis
Written by: @benking200012
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