Wow, how did we get here, right? It seems like it was only the other day that we were talking about how Manchester City were going to walk the title. To be fair, they had won their opening ten games. But that run seems like a while ago now. Pep Guardiola has established a new run, one he’s not entirely used to: A winless streak. Four games and counting. Can the Saints extend that?
Thy had no problem handing out an ass-whupping the last time they faced City. It was Sadio Mane who was running riot for Southampton then. He’s obviously moved on to Liverpool now. But, after a shaky start to his reign, Claude Puel has his boys playing fine football. Nobody is crying over the departure of star men. They’re playing with a fantastic rhythm and flow.
Assuming Puel rests a few players for the Europa League clash with Inter Milan (this was written before that match), they should be able to give City a good fight. That’s because the Blues are looking ragged right now. There’s no shame in losing to Barcelona but a 4-0 battering is likely to create doubts about Guardiola’s methods. It’s only natural when things aren’t going right.
Even though they didn’t score against Barca, City have don’t really have any problems in attack. It’s the defence that’s the problem. Claudio Bravo’s sweeper keeper shenanigans earned him a red card. John Stones isn’t ready to face the likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Heck, who is?
Three of Barcelona’s goals came directly from City errors. They won’t be under as much pressure to hoof the ball into row Z against Southampton but it’s an element of their game that Guardiola has to incorporate. You don’t have to be a tactical genius to know that playing your way out of trouble against Barcelona at the Camp Nou is only going to go one way.
Sergio Aguero is likely to return and Guardiola will obviously put less emphasis on a crowded midfield. We expect it to be a fascinating contest.
Predicted Man City team: Bravo, Clichy, Otamendi, Stones, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Sterling, Silva, Nolito, Gundogan, Aguero
Predicted Southampton team: Forster, Martina, Fonte, Van Dijk, Targett, Romeu, Clasie, Davis, Tadic, Austin, Redmond