Get set for Saints' home meeting against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City with our in-depth match preview, in association with SportPesa.
Southampton vs Manchester City
St Mary's Stadium
Sunday 30th December
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
After successive victories for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men against Arsenal and Huddersfield, a 2-1 defeat to West Ham United denied them a third straight success.
The gap between Saints and Burnley, who currently occupy 18th, remains at three points but the game against the Hammers was a timely reminder of the hard work ahead on the journey until the end of the season.
Reigning champions Manchester City will arrive at St Mary’s with a hunger to avenge a run of three defeats in their last four Premier League games, as many as they had lost in their previous 70 in the competition prior.
The last time Pep Guardiola lost three games in a row during his managerial career was back with Bayern Munich in May 2015.
Southampton: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is back available after serving a one-match suspension against West Ham for an accumulation of five yellow cards. Michael Obafemi also remains a doubt after picking up a knock in training.
Manchester City: Fabian Delph is suspended for the visitors, while Fernandinho is likely to be out for a third fixture with a thigh problem. David Silva came off the bench against Leicester after his hamstring problem and will be in contention for a start.
Southampton's last five
West Ham United (h) L 2-1 (Redmond)
Huddersfield (a) W 3-1 (Redmond, Ings, Obafemi)
Arsenal (h) W 3-2 (Ings 2, Austin)
Cardiff (a) L 0-1
Tottenham (a) L 1-3 (Austin)
Manchester City's last five
Leicester City (a) L 2-1
Crystal Palace (h) L 3-2
Leicester City D 1-1* (Carabao Cup) won on penalties*
Everton (h) W 3-1
Hoffenheim (h) W 2-1 (UEFA Champions League)
Ralph Hasenhüttl: "Like a few teams did in the last games, you need good playing against the ball and to be prepared that you will run a lot without the ball.
"Then, when you have the chance, be sharp and be uncompromising and try to score, and then you can hurt them a little bit. It won't be easy, but if you find the right moves in the right moment then it's possible."
Pep Guardiola: “We have to realise that we have to work harder and change immediately to bring our confidence back and go and get good results.
"We now have to think about Southampton. We have to be humble, we have to work and we will overcome the situation and come back.”
Nathan Redmond netted his second goal in as many games against West Ham as well as teeing up Michael Obafemi at Huddersfield.
The return of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will also prove key, with Hasenhüttl praising the midfielder’s influence in recent matches.
“Pierre is a very intelligent player and in our philosophy and shape it’s important to have an open mind and a quick mind. He’s very important for me at the moment in position number six because he can read the game very well and is very good at winning the ball.
“He has got assists with good forward passes in recent games and has understood quickly that I want to play forwards instead of sideward or back, which I appreciate a lot.”
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero returned to the starting line-up against Leicester after appearing from the bench against Crystal Palace and teed up Bernando Silva.
The Argentinian forward’s threat will be no surprise, but the fact he has scored four goals and four assists in his last eight games against Saints brings it into sharp focus.
Elsewhere, Leroy Sane’s influence cannot be ignored and he will be a danger should he return to his best this Sunday.
Manchester City: 33
DID YOU KNOW
- Saints have scored seven goals in their four games under Ralph Hasenhüttl, as many as in their previous 10 fixtures combined.
- Man City have lost their last two Premier League games, despite scoring first in both. Only four sides have ever lost three in a row after scoring the first goal in the competition (Blackburn in April 2007, Sunderland in February 2011, Wolves in April 2012 and Leicester in December 2014).
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