What a difference a year makes. On 25th October 2019, Southampton were hammered 9-0 at home by Leicester City and sat in the relegation zone with just two wins from their first ten games. The manager wasn’t sacked but remained at the helm, and he guided them to an 11th place finish.
Exactly 12 months later, Southampton were 6th in the league after six games. They were expected to fade but instead, they just got better and, going into Saturday’s match, The Saints are third in the table, four points behind leaders Liverpool and four ahead of City in 8th.
The season started badly for them, losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace on the opening day, before being dumped out of the League Cup by losing 2-0 at home to Brentford. And Saints fan will have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Spurs arrived at St Mary’s and walked away with a 5-2 victory.
Saints rallied and went on an eight match unbeaten run, which ended when Manchester United came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Following that defeat, Southampton won the next two and drew 1-1 at Arsenal to send them third.
Southampton have won four and drawn two at home so far in the league this season, amassing 12 points, scoring 13 goals and conceding 8. Their first home win of the season was a 2-0 victory over West Brom, followed by wins over Everton, Newcastle and Sheffield United.
Danny Ings is Southampton’s top scorer with 6 goals so far this season, with Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse just behind him on 4 goals each. Ings has had 21 shots on goal and Adams 22, however Ings has the better goal conversion rate of 29% as he has played three games less than Adams.
The same duo also top the assist chart, with Ward-Prowse again in third place. Adams leads the way with 4 assists from 14 games, while Ings and Ward-Prowse both have 3. Ward-Prowse is the bigger threat; he has attempted 945 passes, completing 819, giving him a pass completion ratio of 87%, and will need silencing on Saturday if City want to come away with three points.
Who’s The Boss?
Ralph Hasenhüttl is the man at the helm and he has been in charge at St Mary’s since December 2018. He kept his job after being given a vote of confidence after the mauling by Leicester, and that confidence has been repaid.
Southampton is his first managerial role in England, having managed four teams in Germany, the most recent being RB Leipzig.
Played For Both
City and Southampton have rarely done business for players, but there are a few names that you should recognize. Wayne Bridge made 151 appearances for Southampton between 1998 and 2003, and arrived at City in 2009, making 43 appearances in four years in Manchester.
Mick Channon started his career at Southampton in 1965 before moving to City for £300,000 in 1977. Channon struggled to settle at Maine Road as the blues started their decline and the striker returned to Southampton two years later, making just 72 appearances for the blues. Channon made 391 appearances for Saints in his two spells at The Dell.
Dave Watson wore the sky blue of City 146 times in his four year spell at the club between 1975 and 1979 before moving to Werder Bremen, but his time in Germany was short. Watson was sent off in his second game, banned for eight weeks by the German FA and cited injury as a reason for not travelling with the team for a match at Schalke. He did however, turn up for an England match! Southampton paid £200,000 for the defender in October the same year.
Bradley Wright-Phillips made 32 appearances for the blues between 2004 and 2006. The brother of City legend Shaun struggled to make regular appearances and moved to Southampton for £500,000 in July 2006 and went on to appear 111 times for the Saints.
City and Southampton also share a managerial connection in the form of the late Alan Ball. Former chairman Francis Lee brought Ball from Southampton in 1996 to take the bleus up the Premier League table, but instead, City dropped out in his first season. Ball made 132 appearances for Saints in two spells between 1976 and 1980, and 1981 to 1983 before returning as manager in 1994. After taking City down, Ball lasted three games into the new season before resigning his position at Maine Road