Manchester City travel to the south coast to face Southampton this Sunday. The Blues are riding the wave of being undefeated in their last five league outings, but manager Manuel Pellegrini will undoubtedly have to rest some of the team’s key players in lieu of their Champions League Semi Final Leg against Real Madrid.
"I said before we knew we were going to play eight games in 30 days which is a lot for this squad so I’m making rotations in every game we play."
Pellegrini, who had a few gripes against the FA for not moving the match to Saturday, may need to shuffle some cards in order to make sure that no one risks injury, yet remain in position to stay three to five points clear of the nearest club trying to make it into the top four.
MP: "I don’t understand why having so many games in this league with so much interest why we cannot play 24 hours earlier - at least the same as Real Madrid. It’s not for me to say and there’s a lot of things like the rights of TV, so I don’t know."
Southampton sit with an outside chance at Europe themselves, as Ronald Koeman’s side are five points from qualifying for a Europa league place. The Saints will be without Charlie Austin and Florin Gardos, but have no other injuries to report. On the City side, David Silva and Yaya Toure are the only players who will surely be missing action.
Seeing that youngster Kelechi Iheanacho was featured rather prematurely during the week against Madrid, look for him to get another opportunity to show his sparkling league form that has presented itself with five goals. One would surmise that Vincent Kompany would also see rest, while Raheem Sterling could get a start to try to regain some of the form that we have seen dip since the start of winter.
City have won their last four matches against The Saints including a 3-1 victory at the Etihad in November, and while the game is being played away with one eye on the week, the quality presented shouldn’t see any points dropped.