Manchester City host their third consecutive match at the Etihad Saturday. This time, Pep Guardiola’s team face off against Southampton. City drew twice with the Saints in the Premier League last season but won the last meeting between the clubs in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
In preparation for the match, I was able to get some time from Allen Gunn of Southampton site St. Mary’s Musings. Allen answered a few questions for me and gave his prediction for Saturday. Fair to say, he thinks Erling Braut Haaland will be a factor.
CITYZENDuck: Southampton have had some trouble getting off the mark early in the Premier League season. With just 2 wins from their first 8 matches, how is the mood among the supporters?
Allen Gunn: The mood is certainly bleak. We’re playing arguably the worst football we could ever play and the worst we’ve had to endure watching since the Claude Puel era, albeit for different reasons. We flat-out just suck whereas Puel was defensively calculated. The often vocal “Ralph In” crowd has also dropped off considerably from the time we shocked Chelsea for one of our two wins this year. Some thought that could be the turning point for Ralph Hasenhuttl, I hoped that was the case, but he’s known for a few flash-in-the-pan results against the bigger sides, so you had to taper some emotions. Since then, we’ve been absent against Wolves, Aston Villa, and Everton, all games we should’ve been competitive in. That said, being a Saints supporter is always full of ups and downs, so you take them as they come.
CD: The Saints finished 15th in the league last year and are sat just 1 point above Wolverhampton in the bottom three. Is there fear that the club could be relegated this season?
AG: This year we have to hope and pray that there are three teams worse than us. In other years, I felt we had more than enough to stay up on our own accord, despite some wobbles along the way, which is to be expected from a team of our standing. It just feels different now. My biggest fear is we just won’t score enough goals to stay up - the board let everyone down by not bringing in someone in each of the last two seasons to replace the goals lost by selling Danny Ings. Now, whether we fall behind or take a lead, there’s the dread of knowing we don’t have a lot of goals in the side or that we drop more points from winning positions than anyone else. Wrap that all up with the fact that the team is extremely young and it’s going to be an inconsistent uphill battle each week.
CD: There has been some speculation over Hasenhüttl’s future with the club. He currently has the second-highest odds of being sacked according to Planetsport. Do you think he will still be manager on the final day?
AG: I certainly hope not. I think he should’ve been gone at the end of last season, but the board backed him and backed him in the window and it’s gotten worse. It’s clear there is a divide in the locker room - it doesn’t take an article to see it. There’s a reason why we struggle to bring in senior players during the transfer window and a reason why our senior players want to leave after falling out of favour with the manager. There are positive aspects to Hasenhuttl’s management style, but the negatives at the moment show there is a need for a change. End of the day, the manager should not be bigger than the club.
CD: And finally, what is your prediction for this Saturday’s match at the Etihad?
AG: Hahahahahahahahahaaland. I read a tweet the other day that jokingly said it could be 8-1 and the shock-horror was at the fact someone predicted we might score a goal against City, not that we might concede eight. If City decides they want to play us straight up with a strong side, I’m guessing it will be 7-8-9 to nil.