Two of the Premier League’s top three meet when Southampton host Manchester City at St Mary’s on Sunday (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Southampton have made a superb start to the season and find themselves in second place in the Premier League table, with 26 points from eight wins, two draws and two defeats. They extended their unbeaten run to six with a draw at Aston Villa on Monday.
Ronald Koeman’s (pictured) side conceded the opening goal on the half-hour mark and thereafter toiled to break down a Villa side who were more than happy to sit back and defend their advantage. Nathaniel Clyne eventually found a way through after Saints had created two or three other good opportunities, scoring a well-taken equaliser 10 minutes from time.
Saints sold four regular starters and the highly promising Calum Chambers this summer and many expected them to struggle in the early part of the season. That could not have been further from the case. Koeman and new signings have settled quickly, pushing the club firmly into the top three with the joint-second best scoring record and best defence in the league.
Indeed, the fire sale appears to have worked in Koeman’s favour. Saints did lose some very good players, but those departures and the money they raised have allowed the Dutchman to construct a squad of his choosing. Graziano Pelle worked with Koeman at Feyenoord last season, while Dusan Tadic and Toby Alderweireld had both previously starred in Holland.
Koeman will be without the injured James Ward-Prowse (foot) and Jay Rodriguez (knee) for this match, while Steven Davis (hamstring) is doubtful.
Man City travel to the south coast on the back of a thrilling, last-gasp 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday. They are third in the Premier League table, with 24 points from seven wins, three draws and two defeats.
City were outclassed for large periods of Tuesday’s match against a Bayern side reduced to 10 men in the 20th minute of play, but they somehow emerged victorious thanks to two late strikes from Sergio Aguero. It was Aguero who had initially given them the lead after being felled inside the area, before Bayern took charge and scored twice in five minutes to go ahead.
The result kept Man City’s hopes alive ahead of their final group stage match away to Roma in two weeks time. Manuel Pellegrini will also hope that the victory can jumpstart a season in which City have been a little below-par to date. Aguero (scorer of 17 goals) aside, there are few Man City players who have consistently performed at their best during the current campaign.
The club’s decision to focus primarily on rounding out the squad during the summer transfer window could be called into question. City have the eldest squad in the league and aside from defender Eliaquim Mangala, their signings were generally experienced players. They are still a very good side, but there is little indication they have improved over last season.
Pellegrini will not be able to call on the injured Alexsandar Kolarov (calf), while David Silva (knee) and Edin Dzeko (calf) are both highly doubtful. Fernandinho and Yaya Toure are returning after missing Tuesday’s game through suspension.
Southampton v Man City Betting Tips
Southampton have caused City problems on each of their last two visits to St Mary’s. Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, while Saints were 3-1 victors the year before. Man City did record a 4-1 win at the Etihad last season. The last 10 meetings at all venues, going back to 2003, have yielded five wins for City and four for Southampton.
Saints have some difficult fixtures coming up over the next month and a half that should provide some evidence as to whether or not their bid for a top-four finish is sustainable. The numbers certainly look good at the moment, with their defensive solidity particularly impressive. They will be relatively confident of achieving a positive result here.
Man City may not have been brilliant for much of the season to date but the underlying quality of the players at Pellegrini’s disposal has been sufficient to keep near the top of the table, albeit eight points removed from Chelsea. Southampton will make things difficult for them, but they should be capable of taking a point from their trip to the south coast. This is likely to be an even encounter.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 13/5 with Bet365, BetVictor or Coral.
- Southampton have conceded just six goals this season and have allowed just four shots on target in their last five matches. We expect there to be relatively few goals in this match, with the possibility of a repeat of last season’s 1-1 draw. Back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 1/1 (evens) with Bet365, Ladbrokes, SkyBet, William Hill, Betfair Sportsbook or BetVictor.