Southampton – Manchester City (Premier League)
Saturday we are in for a football treat with a South American swing when Southampton and Liverpool face each other. Pochettino needs to break the losing streak, Pellegrini needs to break a curse. Who will come out on top?
The Saints lost their last three games. It’s all about expectations and if losing to Arsenal and Chelsea could have been anticipated the same can’t be said when it comes to Aston Villa. They are still 8th with 22 points. Harsh as it was the Wednesday 3-2 loss was their first home one of the season and can’t obliterate the quality of the game they have been playing under Mauricio Pochettino and what they have accomplished so far. Just ten days ago they were the sensation team of the Premier League, sandwiched between the two Manchester squads. Having failed to add a single point to their tally they stumbled down a bit, but so did United. The organization is still there, the young talented players that impressed Roy Hodgson are still there, the attractive flowing football is still there. Pochettino’s biggest challenge right now is to keep his team from crumbling under the negative results. Specially considering that until the 1st of January five of their six opponents are above them in the table – City, Newcastle, Tottenham, Everton and Chelsea. And the bad news continue. Artur Boruc fractured his left hand against Chelsea and is expected to stay out for six weeks. Wouldn’t be that serious if his back-up, Kelvin Davis, was not injured too. Argentine Paulo Gazzaniga started for the first time in a year facing Villa. That ill-fated match forced Wanyama (leg) and Clyne (pelvis) out into the injury list. José Fonte is doubtful with a knock. Schneiderlin (groin) and Guly do Prado (knee) continue unavailable.
Probable line-up: Gazzaniga – Chambers, Lovren, Fonte, Luke Shaw – Ward-Prowse, Cork – Steven Davis, Lallana, Jay Rodriguez – Rickie Lambert.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men head into this game on the back of their fourth straight win. They are now 3rd with 28 points and will be looking to close in on Arsenal. The Gunners will be their next League opposition right after travelling to Munich for the last Champions League matchday. City has the best attack in the Premier League with 40 goals, a remarkable sum of 62 if one considers all competitions. But there a reason for them to be third instead of first despite this striking force. They have gathered a mere 7 points for away games. A victory at Upton Park where they beat West Ham United 1-3 and a stalemate with Stoke City. Last Wednesday Aguero’s an Yaya Touré’s double secured the second success of the season away from home. Quite an achilles-heel for a title contender. That is way it’s so important for the Citizans to nail a win this Saturday. Not only it allow them to keep an eye on the top but most of all would put an end to the away curse.
Captain Vicent Kompany made his return to the squad and he endured the entire 90 minutes, great news for the Citizens. Jovetic, Nastasic and David Silva are the known casualties.
Probable line-up: Pantilimon – Pablo Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Gael Clichy – Fernandinho – Navas, Yaya Touré, Nasri – Negredo, Aguero.
In February, the corresponding fixture ended in a 3-1 victory for the Saints, the first under Pochettino’s reign. They sure could use a similar result right now, and the respective points.