Manchester City start their season run-in with a trip to bottom club Southampton on Saturday evening. The blues are eight points behind leaders Arsenal, but have a game in hand, and victory at the home of the Saints will put the pressure on the league leaders, who travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday.
Southampton are fighting for points for a very different reasons and will be looking to repeat their 2-0 League Cup quarter-final victory over City in January. If they want to do that, they’ll have to do something they have only done once at home this year - win.
Saints haven’t won in four matches, and their last win was their first at home in 2023, a 1-0 win over Leicester at the beginning of March. Since then, they’ve lost 2-0 at home to Brentford and drawn 3-3 with Spurs. That was only Southampton’s second home win of the season, their first coming in a 2-1 win over Chelsea back in August.
Since that win, Saints have lost six and drawn two of their eight home matches, and their total home record reads eight lost and four drawn. Overall, Southampton’s precarious position is down to the fact that they have won just six and lost 18 of their 29 Premier League matches this season.
Saints have won just three since the turn of the year, with two of those being on the road. They have won three times as many matches on their travels than they have at home, and that should hopefully be to City’s advantage on Saturday afternoon.
Ones To Watch
Despite Southampton’s struggles, they still pose a big threat in front of goal in the form of Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse. Adams is the Saints top scorer with ten goals so far this season, while Ward-Prowse has chipped in with nine. Adams is averaging a goal every 225 minutes with Ward-Prowse averaging a goal every 353 minutes. Both scored in the 3-3 draw at home to Spurs, therefore, City should be safe from the duo on Saturday.
Adams has had the most shots at goal with 44 and has a shot accuracy rate of 55%. Set-piece specialist Ward-Prowse has attempted 34 shots, and has an accuracy rating of 59%, the highest of Saints regular starters.
Others who have contributed to Southampton’s 23 league goals are Romain Perraud (4), with Adam Armstrong, Carlos Alcaraz and Joe Aribo scoring two each.
Assists have also fallen to the two top scorers, with both contributing three each. Ward-Prowse has been the most effective, creating 72 chances overall, more than treble his closest competitor. He has also attempted 1,880 passes, with 1,596 completed, which gives him a pass accuracy of 85%, the highest in the Southampton team.
Adams has created 23 chances, but has only attempted 544 passes, completing 365. Joining Saints star players on the assist chart is Sékou Mara, who also has three assists. He has only created six chances, so, with half the chances provided taken, City must be wary of him on Saturday afternoon.
Who’s the Boss?
Ruben Selles is the third man to take the reigns at St Marys this season. Selles joined Saints in June last year to assist Ralph Hasenhuttl, and became caretaker after the Austrian was sacked in November. Nathan Jones took over, but was then sacked in February, with Selles taking control of the team.
Southampton have won two matches under Selles and lost four of his nine matches in charge, giving him a win ratio of 25%.
Last Time Out
In October, City put four past Southampton without reply as Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Erling Haaland all scored in a 4-0 win. City last won at Southampton in the league in December 2020, when a 16th minute goal from Raheem Sterling settled the tie. Last season, Aymeric Laporte’s 65th minute equaliser cancelled out Kyle Walker-Peters 7th minute opener to secure a 1-1 draw.