Manchester City can solidify their top-four finish this season if they are able to come away with three points from their visit to Southampton on Saturday. The Saints are one of the most underrated sides in the Premier League, with plenty of talent from goal to striker, and their point at the Etihad earlier this season proved that they're pretty good.
They nearly beat Manchester United in the EFL Cup Final, and although manager Claude Puel hasn't fully convinced the fans yet, the Frenchman has done a really good job and developed some really good players. The best of them might be Nathan Redmond, who came from Norwich and became another success story of a club that knows how to buy quality young players and turn them into big moneymakers.
Southampton aren't ready to compete for Europe yet, but they're an established Premier League side and will make any game against the top teams really tough. Pep Guardiola and his men will have to play really well to beat the Saints, and if they do, a Chelsea victory at Old Trafford could put City seven points ahead of fifth place, and a Champions League place would be nearly guaranteed.
This won't be an easy game, and the Saints are really good. Should be fun, but City will have to work hard to get three points.
Date/Time: Saturday, April 15, 2017, 5:30pm BST (UK), 12:30pm ET, 9:30am PT (USA), 10pm IST (India)
Venue: St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Television: BT Sport 1 (UK), NBC (USA), SuperSport 3 (Africa), Star Sports Select HD1 (India), Sportsnet World (Canada), elsewhere
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Pablo Zabaleta and Nicolas Otamendi shook off minor injury issues that kept them out of last weekend's match against Hull City, so the only absentees for the Southampton match are Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Bacary Sagna. Jesus and Sagna will return this season, but won't face the Saints. Pep has been impressed with Fabian Delph and Jesús Navas for their recent performances, and while these two aren't the best players in the City squad, they have played quite well and might keep their places in the lineup.
Raheem Sterling returned as a starter and burned down the Hull defense, and there's no reason to leave him or David Silva out of the team; Fernandinho, Yaya Touré, De Bruyne and Leroy Sané will compete for the final spot in midfield, while Willy Caballero and Claudio Bravo have no idea if they'll start in goal. It's a game-by-game decision for Guardiola, which clearly means he doesn't have a number one. City's lineup is always impossible to figure out before the match, but the team as a whole has played well in most of their recent matches.
Southampton: Forster; Cédric, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand; Clasie, Hojbjerg; Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Redmond; Long
Man City: Bravo; Navas, Stones, Kompany, Clichy; Fernandinho, Delph; De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling; Agüero
Staying strong in the European race: 3-1 to the visitors.