Southampton will be hoping Manchester City will be distracted by next week’s Champions League game when the sides meet at St Mary’s in the Premier League on Sunday.
1 May 2016
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium
Referee: A. Marriner
Assistants: J. Brooks, P. Kirkup
Fourth official: A. Taylor
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Southampton 60 21 17 22
Man City 60 22 17 21
Man City 3-1 Southampton 28/11/15 (Premier League)
Manchester City goalscorers: K. De Bruyne (9′), F. Delph (20′), A. Kolarov (69′)
Southampton goalscorers: S. Long (49′)
Players to watch:
Shane Long’s goal against Aston Villa last weekend makes this his most successful scoring season in the Premier League, but Man City are really going to have to keep an eye on is Sadio Mane, who has scored four goals in his last five league games.
With an eye on the deciding leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid next week, there is a significant chance Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini will opt to rest some of his key players, such as Sergio Aguero.
This presents a massive opportunity for Kelechi Iheanacho to show he is capable of leading the line, and he is likely to be relishing the opportunity. The 19-year-old has impressed in the numerous opportunities he has been given off the bench this season and has contributed 12 goals in all competitions despite only playing a bit-part role.
Team form and manager quotes:
Southampton have found some solid late-season form and the only fixture they have lost in the last seven Premier League matches was an away game to top-of-the-table Leicester City.
Their preparations for this weekend’s encounter have been somewhat disrupted by suggestions manager Ronald Koeman would be leaving the club at the end of the season, but the Dutch boss used his pre-match press conference to quell the rumours.
“I don’t like to talk about individual clubs because I think everybody has ambition, and I have that also, but I signed a three-year contract with Southampton,” he said.
“The club makes a five-year plan and of course I’m interested in how we see the plan and discuss about that plan and agree or not. It was good to see they still have ambition to grow and to make the next step.”
Manchester City are finally showing the kind of form that people have been expecting from them all season and, while it is too late to challenge for the Premier League, fans will be pleased with what they have seen from their club in recent weeks.
The Citizens are unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions, including knocking Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League, and, even with a slightly rotated line-up, will pose a tough challenge for Southampton.
While basically conceding he had one eye on their match against Real Madrid, Pellegrini remained adamant the best preparation they could have for the Champions League encounter was to beat Southampton.
“The best way to make a good game on Wednesday is to win on Sunday and have trust in the performance of different players,” he told reporters.
“Our mind is the same, to continue trying to win all our games and have a spot in the Champions League for next year, and be as near the top of the table as we can.”
The only injury news for Southampton is positive, with Charlie Austin and Florin Gardos (both knee) returning to training this week. The former will be available for selection, while the latter is unlikely to be risked so soon after recovering from a long-term injury.
David Silva will miss out for Manchester City with a hamstring injury and Yaya Toure is back in training, but is unlikely to be risked. Samir Nasri has fully recovered from a muscle complaint and will be in the matchday squad.