Manchester City are headed to St Mary’s to face Southampton FC. Pep Guardiola’s men have won 7 matches on the bounce in all competitions and have conceded just twice in that span. A full week’s rest since the last match sees a fully rejuvenated side and importantly, a fully fit Erling Braut Haaland.
With all of his weapons at his disposal, and the Saints likely to be in a very defensive posture given their place at the bottom of the table, I think Pep will likely employ a 4-4-2 setup with both of his strikers on the pitch to open things up at the back. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too far, however. We’ll begin our lineup card between the sticks with Ederson starting in goal.
The back four, which will be a back three when City are in possession, will feature a familiar setup. Since Rúben Dias has returned to fitness, City has become a more stingy group in defence. His partnership with Manuel Akanji has been impressive. Nathan Aké has been Pep’s most reliable option throughout the season and John Stones has become City’s newest centre-back/fullback/midfield hybrid.
Normally when trying to predict Pep’s choices I stick with a standard 4-3-3 look. With Southampton gaffer Rubén Sellés likely to keep as many men behind the ball as possible, I think Guardiola might flood the midfield with facilitators to counter. We’ll put Rodri at CDM with Stones sliding forward to create a double pivot in possession. Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Jack Grealish will push the ball forward and look to supply the two at the top.
The attack will feature the two-headed monster of the goal-hungry Haaland and his equally dangerous sidekick Julián “La Araña” Álvarez, which I mentioned in our Gut Feelings article earlier. The two have not played together much, but with a desperate Southampton side looking to limit scoring opportunities, now will be a perfect time to unleash them together. Haaland will certainly command much of the Saints' attention. This will leave space for Álvarez who has a knack for finding it.
Kevin De Bruyne
There you have it Cityzens. How would you like to see the lads line up? Give us your preferred XI in the comments section.