saintsfc.co.uk takes a look ahead to Sunday's game against Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League, kick-off 1.30pm at St Mary's.
Ronald Koeman’s Southampton head into Sunday’s game against Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City sitting two points ahead of the reigning champions in the Barclays Premier League table.
Saints have not lost in their previous six fixtures in all competitions and come into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park on Monday night.
City were in action 24 hours later in the Champions League as a Sergio Aguero hat-trick fired them to a win against ten-man Bayern Munich at the Etihad to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive.
Pellegrini’s side came from behind in their Premier League game last weekend to beat Swansea City thanks to Yaya Toure’s second-half goal. Steven Jovetic equalised for the hosts after Wilfried Bony had given the visitors a shock early lead.
City have won three of their six away games so far this season, scoring 13 and conceding eight in the process, while Saints have conceded just one goal, and scored 17, in their five wins and a draw so far at St Mary’s this campaign.
Saints will be without Jay Rodriguez and James Ward-Prowse again as the long-term absentees continue their recovery from injury, while Steven Davis remains doubtful, having missed Monday night’s game against Aston Villa.
City will have Yaya Toure and Fernandinho back available after they missed Tuesday night’s Champions League game through suspension.
David Silva, Edin Džeko and Aleksandar Kolorov remain on the sidelines for the Premier Leaguc champions.
City regained the Premier League title last season, pipping Liverpool to the post after winning their final five league games to finish on 86 points, two ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have struggled to keep the pace with table-topping Chelsea this season, falling to defeats against Stoke City and West Ham United, as well as drawing with Arsenal, Chelsea and QPR.
They currently sit two points behind Saints, and eight behind Jose Mourinho’s side, with 24 points from their opening 12 games, while they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup at home to Newcastle in the fourth round.
Inspired by Sergio Aguero, City are still in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League after picking up their first group-stage win against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Aguero is currently the man keeping City in the hunt in both competitions, with 17 goals in just 18 appearances so far this season, including four against Tottenham Hotspur. The Argentine has scored just once against Saints in the previous meetings between the two sides.
City have scored an impressive 24 goals in their opening 12 games, the same number as Saints, but have conceded 13 goals, compared to Saints’ six.
Ronald Koeman: “There’s always more attention to a game when you play against a big club in the Premier League. It is one of the 38 games that you play, but maybe it is a little easier to motivate the players than normally.
“We like to prepare our game in the same way, it doesn’t depend on the name of the opponent. We have our way of playing, we play at home, we like to play good football.”
Manuel Pellegrini: “They are a good team with very good players and they’re playing very well. It’s no surprise they are where they are. Ronald Koeman has lost four or five players but they are still a good team and that’s a merit to him. It will be a tough game.’
Mike Jones will take charge of Sunday’s game against Manchester City at St Mary’s.
The 46 year-old plied his trade in the Football League for 11 years before he was added to the Select Group in 2008 and began officiating in the Premier League.
Jones has taken charge of seven Premier League games so far this season, including Saints’ 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in October.
Last season, Jones took charge of Saints’ 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at St James’ Park, and the 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford. He also refereed the game at Craven Cottage, where Saints beat Fulham 3-0.
The fourth official on Sunday is Phil Dowd, who took charge of Saints’ game against Aston Villa on Monday night.
Stay tuned to the official website and the club’s YouTube channel for reaction to the game.