Saturday will see Manchester City travel south to take on a Southampton side coming off the back of a three game losing streak. Manchester City are winners of three in a row when it comes to their last three Premier League games, but despite Wednesday’s victory over West Brom they still have points to prove when it comes to their away form.
When the sides met ten months ago it was the home side who emerged victorious by a 3-1 score line. In fact, in order to find the last time Manchester City won a game against Southampton in the League, home or away, you have to go back to November 1, 2003 when goals from Robbie Fowler and Paulo Wanchope gave City a 2-0 win. Of course the fact that Southampton have been away from the Premier League for most of that time makes that statistic seem a lot more ominous than it actually is, nevertheless it will always be set in history that Southampton is the team to get the last win at Manchester City’s old ground, Maine Road.
Saturday’s game will see a vast change in both sides since that day in 2003. Southampton have been down to the lower reaches of the Football League structure, gone into administration and then fought their way back to 4th in the Premier League earlier this season.
Manchester City, of course, have since won the FA Cup, the Premiership and dropped a whole ton of money on players, stadums and general investments within the brand. As a result the expectations of both clubs have grown dramatically since that final day of the 2003 season.
Going into the game Manuel Pellegrini has no fresh injury concerns but will still be without David Silva, Stevan Jovetic and Matija Nastasic for the fixture. On the back of the first 85 minutes at the Hawthorns on Wednesday you would have to say that City had banished their away day hoodoo, but there were still those nervous last five minutes where the jitters set in.
Southampton struggled against Aston Villa midweek at home, partially because of the injury to their goalkeeper in the previous game at Chelsea. This injury I feel will be a great boost for City with the replacement conceding five goals in the last 120 minutes of Premiership game time — that’s a goal every 24 minutes.
Sergio Aguero is on fire for the visitors right now while Yaya Toure is his constant, reliable self. Samir Nasri is showing his best form since joining City, and the return of Vincent Kompany at the back has steadied the nerves, if not the resolve of the back four.
With Arsenal not playing until Sunday when a strong Everton side visits, a win for Manchester City will bring them to within three points of the runaway Premier League pacesetters.