Manchester City will look to build on their sensational display against Liverpool when they face Southampton on Sunday.

Manchester City, after giving the Liverpool players a guard of honour for their amazing title run, restored their honour by registering an incredible 4-0 victory against the Reds. It was an emphatic win that also came across as a statement of intent as Pep Guardiola brace themselves for an equally challenging title race next season.

Nevertheless, Man City’s current objective will be to end their ongoing campaign on a positive note as they take on on Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday. The Sky Blues currently trail league leaders by 20 points. And they could preserve their record of winning the title by 19 points during the 2017/18 season if they fight on till the very end.

Southampton, on the other hand, have a completely different set of problems. Although the Saints are pretty much safe when it comes to the relegation fight, they will look to at least finish in the top half of the league table.

However, given the nature of their opponent, Southampton’s momentum and attitude towards this game could totally change despite securing an impressive 3-1 win over Watford last weekend. It is needless to say that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men will look to avoid any embarrassment as they, too, are eyeing a positive finish to the Premier League campaign.

And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this exciting clash at St. Mary’s Stadium on Sunday.

Tactics & Team News

Southampton

As mentioned earlier, Hasenhuttl is more than expected to take a more cautious approach against the mighty Manchester City attack this weekend. But, the Austrian has Jannik Vestergaard as well as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg out injured heading into this game.

Vestergaard’s absence means Jack Stephens, who returns from suspension, should get back into the starting lineup, forming the central defensive partnership alongside Jan Bednarek. Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand are guaranteed starter in the full-back slots, with the latter’s experience likely to be preferred ahead of Jake Vokins.

In midfield, someone like Oriol Romeu is tailor-made for the deep defensive block Southampton will employ in this fixture. Hence, the Spaniard is a favourite to start alongside James Ward-Prowse in the double-pivot.

In the wider midfield slots, Stuart Armstrong is tipped to replace Will Smallbone as Hasenhuttl looks to rotate his squad, especially with games coming thick and fast. However, the same cannot be said for Nathan Redmond, who is a guaranteed starter at left-wing.

And finally, we could expect Danny Ings to retain his place in the starting lineup as the ex-Liverpool star eyes the top-scorer prize in the Premier League this season. He could be partnered by Che Adams, who could have an excellent opportunity to redeem himself following a disappointing debut campaign at St. Mary’s.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Adams, Ings

Manchester City

Changes could be in order for Manchester City following their emphatic display against Liverpool in midweek. In fact, it won’t be surprising to see Pep Guardiola make wholesale changes to the side that secured a 4-0 win over the Reds on Thursday.

What next for Pep? (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Guardiola is set to ring in the changes. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Although Ederson is pretty much a guaranteed starter in goal, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko are both expected to replace Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy respectively in the full-back positions.

Fernandinho is set to be available for this encounter and should replace Aymeric Laporte in central defence. The Brazilian is set to form the heart of Man City’s four-man backline alongside Nicolas Otamendi, who, in turn, would be replacing Eric Garcia.

Moving on, Rodri could retain his place in the number six slot. But, Kevin De Bruyne might get a breather, as well as Ilkay Gundogan, as Bernardo Silva and David Silva brace themselves for a start in central midfield.

In attack, Sergio Aguero is still out injured, meaning Gabriel Jesus is a guaranteed starter in the number nine role. But, there could be alternation at right wing, with Riyad Mahrez replacing Raheem Sterling although it would mean Phil Foden will have to switch the flanks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Rodri, David Silva; Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Foden

Key Stats

  • Southampton have lost each of their last six Premier League meetings with Manchester City – they’ve never lost seven in a row against an opponent in the competition.
  • Manchester City have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League meetings with Southampton (D1 L1), including each of the last six in a row by an aggregate score of 17-4.
  • Southampton have lost 10 Premier League home games this season – they’ve never lost more at home in any of their previous 92 campaigns in their league history (also 10 in 1993-94).
  • Manchester City haven’t lost three consecutive away league games since a run of four in April 2015 under Manuel Pellegrini. Manager Pep Guardiola has never lost three consecutive away league games before in his managerial career.

Player to Watch

Phil Foden

Foden will get a chance to impress against Dinamo Zagreb (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Starting to make an impression. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

The departure of Leroy Sane to FC Bayern earlier this week could play a key role in dictating Phil Foden’s future at the club. The youngster is already starting to gain a more prominent role in Manchester City’s starting eleven, of late – an idea that was further fueled by his performance against Liverpool in midweek.

Indeed, Foden was all over the Liverpool defence and caused a lot of problems for Andrew Robertson. He will be looking to maintain that form against a Southampton side that are likely to defend in deep blocks. Hence, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Englishman is capable of doing anything magical to breach the Saints this weekend.

Moreover, it is needless to say that Foden’s performances over the next few matches could play a key role in helping Guardiola assign his role in the team next season.

Prediction

Southampton 0-3 Manchester City

Manchester City could well steamroll the Southampton defence given the form they are in right now. The Citizens have shown an excellent zest and willingness to pose a stronger challenge to Liverpool next season. Hence, they will be desperate to end the campaign on a positive note. And with that in mind, we expect the visitors to register a comfortable 3-0 win this weekend.

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