Premier League leaders Manchester City will be looking to claim their 13th successive league victory when they face Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday evening.
The Saints, meanwhile, who played out a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season, could move into the top 10 if they were to secure all three points on home soil.
Southampton’s five-game unbeaten run across all competitions came to an end last weekend when they were beaten 3-1 away at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
After Raul Jimenez and Conor Coady put the hosts two goals in front, set-piece king James Ward-Prowse scored an astonishing 35-yard free kick six minutes from time to give the Saints hope of a comeback; Only England legend David Beckham (18) has scored more Premier League free kicks than Southampton’s captain.
However, Wolves managed to restore their two-goal cushion and claim all three points when Adama Traore netted in stoppage time. That result has seen Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men slip to 12th in the table, 11 points clear of the relegation zone and the same number of points behind the top seven.
Hasenhuttl’s side also suffered defeat against Wolves on home soil earlier this season, but that has been their only league loss in 10 games at St Mary’s this campaign – drawing six and winning three of the other nine – a record which will give them confidence ahead of Saturday’s clash with the champions.
The Saints will also take note of their resilient display at the Etihad Stadium in September last year when they played out a goalless draw, though many would argue that the visitors were unlucky not to come away with all three points on that occasion.
Another impressive defensive performance will be required on Saturday if they are to avoid defeat in both league meetings with City for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.
However, since keeping a clean sheet against the Citizens, Southampton have only recorded three shutouts in their last 16 league matches, shipping 27 goals in the process.
While Pep Guardiola insists that the title race is not over just yet, Manchester City fans are sure to feel confident of clinching their fourth top-flight crown in five years following their slender 1-0 win over title rivals Chelsea last weekend.
Kevin De Bruyne haunted his former club with the decisive strike in the 70th minute to seal all three points for the Citizens, who now sit 11 points clear of Liverpool in second place, having played a game more.
City seem to be unstoppable at present and without a recognised number nine, Guardiola’s men continue to excel in front of goal, netting 34 times during their 12-game winning streak in the league.
However, the Sky Blues were unable to breach Southampton’s backline on home soil earlier this season, taking 16 shots on goal but registering only one on target. City have in fact failed to score in two of their last four league meetings against the Saints despite finding the net in each of their previous 16 against them.
Guardiola’s buoyant bunch will be anything but concerned about such a statistic, and having opened the scoring in more different Premier League fixtures than any other side this season, going on to win all 17 matches in the process, another potential opener on Saturday should give them the platform to secure yet another top-flight victory.
City are six points better off than at this stage last season, and another win on Saturday would see them move 14 points clear at the summit before Liverpool face Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Southampton Premier League form:
Southampton form (all competitions):
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
We say: Southampton 0-2 Manchester City
Southampton’s point secured against Man City earlier this season will certainly give Hasenhuttl’s side belief that they can claim another positive result on Saturday.
However, the Citizens have put together a remarkable run of form and it is difficult to predict anything but an away victory for the Premier League leaders.