Manchester City make the long journey to the south coast to face Southampton on Sunday, and will be looking to avoid a third consecutive Premier League defeat. Last month, anyone who said that City would lose two consecutive games in December would have been thought slightly deluded. But defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City have seen Pep Guardiola’s team slide down to third place in the league table, seven points behind Liverpool ahead of the weekend’s games.
For Southampton, recent weeks have brought encouraging victories over Arsenal at home and Huddersfield Town away, but they also lost at home to West Ham United on Boxing Day. New manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has clearly brought a new atmosphere to the club, but the honeymoon is ending now and the need for hard graft remains. The Saints will need to be at their very best to beat City, despite the Mancunians’ recent travails.
Southampton vs Manchester City Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Man City
Our prediction for this game is that it will end in a 1-1 draw. City have been in poor form in recent times, and seem to have hit a midseason obstacle. Guardiola’s team have lost the aura of invincibility that they possessed right up until this month. Teams now might just sense a psychological weakness that can be exposed. We suspect that City might dominate possession but struggle to score on Sunday. Southampton may go into an early lead and force City into playing catch-up football. Guardiola’s team will have enough quality in the end to secure a draw, though.
Our recommended tip: 1-1 draw
Our featured tip for this game comes from Paddy Power. The Irish bookie is offering odds of 9/1 on the game finishing 1-1. This matches our prediction perfectly, and also offers you some good value when it comes to the odds. The odds on most results for this game are fairly long, suggesting that the bookies are struggling to predict how it will turn out. City’s recent slump means that Guardiola’s team does not look as indomitable as they have done for much of 2018/19. A revitalised Saints side are well capable of securing a draw and a valuable point.
These two sides have faced each other on 29 previous occasions in the Premier League. Manchester City have won 16 of those games, Southampton six and there have been seven draws. The Saints have beaten City three times at home and three times away during the Premier League era.
The most recent encounter between the teams came on November 4 earlier this season, when the two sides met at the Etihad Stadium. City absolutely battered the Saints that day, triumphing 6-1. City were 3-0 up after just 18 minutes that day, so Southampton will not want to concede any early goals on Sunday.
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Players to watch: Mario Lemina & Raheem Sterling
If Southampton are to have any chance of inflicting more Premier League misery on City, they will need their midfield players to be combative. Gabonese midfielder Mario Lemina leads the tackle charts for the Saints in 2018/19, having made 45 tackles at a success rate of 64%. He has also blocked six shots and made 25 clearances. He has won 19 50/50 challenges and 25 aerial battles. The Saints will need those battling qualities on Sunday.
City winger Raheem Sterling has really answered his many critics in 2018/19. The England international has weighed in with nine goals and six assists in his 16 Premier League appearances this season, and has also created five big chances for his team. Interestingly, his contributions in defence are not insignificant either: he has blocked 11 shots and made eight interceptions this season too, as well as making 15 tackles and two clearances.