Competition/Round: 2018/19 English Premier League Season – Matchday 20
Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, England, United Kingdom
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Lee Probert
TV Info: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN (USA)
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Radio: BBC Radio Manchester (UK); TalkSport Radio World (USA)
The final match of the 2018 calendar year is here. Southampton will host Manchester City on Matchday 20.
The Saints are finding their form under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Prior to his arrival, Southampton had won only one of their 15 English Premier League matches. Following the sacking of Mark Hughes and the introduction of Hasenhuttl, however, the Saints won two of their four matches under his tenure. The most notable victory came against Arsenal. Having scored seven goals in their last four matches, Southampton are on the rise under their new manager, and given City’s recent form, the Saints will believe they can take something from the visitors on Sunday.
Manchester City thrashed Southampton 6-1 during their first encounter this season. Despite having faced the Saints last month, however, this seems to be a very different City side. The Blues have lost three of their last four EPL matches and conceded a remarkable eight goals during this period. City seem to be lacking confidence and their “fear factor” has departed. The Blues now find themselves in third place in the current EPL table, seven points behind Liverpool, the current league leaders. Should City hope to retain the title, they will need to return to their winning ways. Anything other than a City victory will be seen as a failure.
Cédric Soares and Ryan Bertrand are injured and will not feature in this match.
Manchester City are without the injured Claudio Bravo, Benjamin Mendy, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho. Gabriel Jesus is in doubt after picking up a knock. Fabian Delph is suspended for this match.
McCarthy; Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard; Valery, Højbjerg, Romeu, Targett; Redmond, Armstrong; Ings
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Danilo; De Bruyne, Gündoğan, D. Silva; Sterling, Agüero, Sané
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Southampton look like a new side under their manager, having won two of their four matches under his tenure. Whilst they find themselves three points above the EPL drop zone, the Saints are in fine goalscoring form. The Saints will look to play spoiler on Sunday as they host Manchester City. It is expected they will also look to replicate the performances of Crystal Palace and Leicester City, the two sides who recently beat City.
Meanwhile, the Blues have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine matches in all competitions. City also lost three of their last four EPL matches (the Blues only lost two EPL matches last season). The pressure is on the English champions, and should they wish to retain the EPL title, they cannot afford another slipup. Otherwise, if they fail to earn a result at St. Mary’s Stadium, it will feel as if they are no longer in title contention.
Given the current forms of these teams, it is expected both sides will score. It is predicted, however, that City will overcome their recent slump and will return to their winning ways. It will not be a pretty match, but the Blues will look to keep pace with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Southampton 1-2 Manchester City