There is no denying that this past week has not been great for Manchester City. The hammering last week, at home, to Liverpool was the start. Then, in midweek, there was the defeat to Juventus in the Champions League (although City have already qualified from the group stage). Now we hear that Vincent Kompany will be out for another two weeks and we are unsure of the status of Joe Hart (although as this goes live we may know a little more). With the defense on display last weekend being one of the more shocking post takeover displays neither one of these two vital pieces of the Pellegrini puzzle being out will settle City nerves. On the plus side we were made aware of the club taking on board supporters thoughts and announcing that there will be a change to the clubs badge in the near future.
Next up for City is the visit of Southampton. Statistically, in recent years at least, we have the better record. In the last decade Southampton have never beaten us at our ground in any competition and there was only the one defeat when you include away games over the same period which happened on February 19th 2013. In that game the Saints raced to a 2-0 lead before Edin Dzeko pulled one back before half time. An own goal from Gareth Barry right after the restart knocked all the wind out of our sails and there would be no memorable comeback.
The last defeat by at our ground from a Saints side came in the April of 2004. Again the Saints would take a 2-0 lead through James Beattie and then Kevin Phillips before Nicolas Anelka pulled one back. It would be Phillips who would score again and actually, a little under a year later, Anelka would play his last game for City, which was also at home to Southampton. Anelka moved on to Fenebahce two months before manager, Kevin Keegan, ex Southampton player said goodbye to the blues.
Sadly Marc Vivien Foe also played his last game for City at home to Southampton. Just over a month after the final game of the 2002/03 season Foe would collapse and die on the pitch from a heart attack while on International duty. Peter Schmichel, Ali Benarbia, Kevin Horlock and Shaun Goater also made their final appearances for the blues in that game.
Just under two decades ago Garry Flitcroft played his last game for City, again at home, against Southampton. The little Georgian, Georgi Kinkladze scored a wonderful solo goal in that game, our diamond before we had Silva. I suggest you Youtube it if you haven't seen it already.
Back to head to head though and overall there really isn't much to separate our two sides in all competitions since the first meeting in 1966. Fifty nine games have been played between the two clubs with each side having 21 wins and 17 draws. When the games are played on Manchester City turf though and the balance swings in favor of Saturdays hosts. In 30 home games Manchester City have only lost on eight occasions, three of which came in the early 2000's when City had just been bouncing between the top two divisions and had only recently been in the third tier.
Thirty five years ago was the closest home game to Saturdays date against Southampton when City went on that FA Cup run which ended with Ricky Villa's slinky moves. A little under two weeks from being an exact date match City won 3-0 with goals from Dave Bennett, Gerry Gow and Kevin Reeves.
The very next season City signed Southampton Midfielder, Graham Baker and he would go on to make over 100 appearances for the Citizens and score 19 goals before returning to the Saints.
Kevin Bond spent most of the 1980's at either City or Southampton, making over 100 appearances at each of the clubs. The son of former City manager John Bond wasn't the only defender to start off at the Saints before coming to City. Wayne Bridge also made that transition from Southampton before heading to City via Chelsea. Going the other way was Bradley Wright Phillips who switched to the south coast in 2006.
Remembered in different ways by either club would be Alan Ball. A star for Southampton from 1976 to 80 and then again from 1981 to 83, the England World Cup winner, made almost 200 appearances. The return to the Saints was brought about thanks to the incentive of playing alongside Mick Channon and Kevin Keegan, both with their own ties to City (although Keegans came after this).
Ball would then return to the Saints as Manager in 1994 and help guide them to Premier League safety before joining City for the start of the 1995/96 season and guiding them to relegation.
A slightly less impressive name to play for both was the ex Manchester United winger Andrei Kancheslkis. Not meant to be a dig at an ex United favorite but he was loaned to City from Glasgow Rangers, scoring once in ten games before moving to Southampton where he started even less times.
Saturdays game is vital for both sides. For City, with Leicester hosting Manchester United one, or both sides will drop points. A win could put them right back in that top spot, but at the very least second depending on how many goals, if any, Arsenal get away at Norwich. Which, to be fair to Norwich, is a little harsh as Arsenal have only been successful on six occasions over the last 40 years. Norwich have also been successful on the same number of occasions with the rest of the games ending even.
Southampton are right in the middle of sides between 5th and 12th. The points difference between those two positions are a mere eight and after the defeat at Stoke last time out the Saints need to make sure they don't end up in the wrong half of the table, which is just as easy with a bad run as being I the top five is with a half decent one.
It could be a tense game and I think maybe points shared at the end for only the eighteenth time. A win for City could be a good omen though as in the last two successful Premier League campaigns City beat Southampton 4-1 and 3-2 at the Etihad. Toure, Nasri, Dzeko and Jovetic the last time and Tevez, Dzeko and Nasri in the previous title winning season.
In 1967/68 we also had success against the Saints thanks to Colin Bell and Neil Young both scoring twice in a 4-2 City victory That came on the back of three games without a win. Could we have another result like this to set us back on the road to regain the Premiership title?