The last four matches have been tough for Manchester City. They are still seeking to establish themselves as a powerful, consistent presence at the highest level. Southampton will not be an easy match on Saturday, but the Blues’ ability to assert themselves will make the difference.
Here are three things to watch:
1 - Prolonging inspiration
The Sky Blues have mustered new dimensions of moving, passing, and attacking throughout the season. They can begin to instill a deeper sense of respect in opponents by continuing to work Premier League defenses with fresh combinations in the last weeks of the season.
Since many attacking players are bound to stay at City, their final performances of the season could take the team into the future with some genuine excitement.
2 - Proving a point
Expectations for Pep Guardiola’s first season were, for the most part, overblown or simply unrealistic.
However, his influence at the club has coincided with some of the clearest individual improvements in England. City’s tactical approach and defensive resolve have drastically improved, but the last few matches still demand more "strength in the boxes" from the Blues.
For those who will be keeping the City shirt, along with those moving to other teams during the summer transfer window, ending this season on a high note will be beneficial in many ways.
3 - Attracting transfers
City’s finances allow them to compete with the top clubs of Europe, but their competitive standing will play a certain role in acquiring new talent this summer. Successful performances from now to the end of the season will not only keep the Blues in the top four, it will also give potential new players a positive example of what could be achieved at the Etihad.
Southampton have a well-rounded approach to containing teams like City, so the Blues will need to bring their most magical approach from the start. Three points will be earned if the Sky Blue stars coordinate their signature instincts and quality on Saturday.