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Southampton preview

Where and when:

City of Manchester Stadium, Sunday January 28th 2007.

Current form:

Both sides have a decent Cup pedigree in recent season, with Southampton making the last sixteen in all but one of the past five seasons and ourselves aiming for a fifth appearance in the round five over the past seven seasons.
This season, George Burley has guided the Saints to the playoff spots in the Championship and are unbeaten in their past eight games and have not conceded in three.

Until the Blackburn defeat, we had picked up in both performances and results and ultimately brushed aside another Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in round three.

Team news:

City welcome back Joey Barton after suspension but Trevor Sinclair must serve one.
Loan signing Djamel Abdoun, 20, could make his debut for City.

Southampton could welcome back Nathan Dyer after an ankle injury but Inigo Idiakez, Rudi Skacel, Andrew Surman and Djamel Belmadi are out.
Full-back Chris Makin is set to return after hamstring trouble, while in-demand Gareth Bale plays and Bradley Wright-Phillips is pushing to start. (Courtesy of BBC Sport)

Keys to the game:

It is upto us to dictate the pace of the game early on in the game, as the crowd is (again) not likely to be a large one and the danger is a flat atmosphere would be more beneficial to Southampton, who are likely to come out flying in the early stages.

Barton's return will help and if our midfield get a grip of the game and control proceedings then we should have enough to win through. Up front though, whichever pairing Pearce goes with need to eliminate some of the wastefulness we have seen in recent games, as chances will probably be at a premium so we need to be far more ruthless than we have been in recent games.

City link:

Bradley Wright-Phillips. Discarded by Stuart Pearce, he must glance over at our striking woes and think 'what if'? This is his chance to prove Pearce was wrong to let him go.

Why City will win:

Despite Southampton's good form this season, this is a big game for us with last years disappointing FA Cup exit serving as a spur to go even further this season. Barton's return should take us through.

Why City will lose:

The Blackburn result signalled the end of our mini-revival, and could be the catalyst for another second half of the season meltdown.

Prediction:

City 2 Southampton 1

Opposition view.