Manchester City lead the Premier League with 19 points at this early stage of the season, but they will need to keep up their exploits if they are to stay there as they play Southampton on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.
Southampton have now established themselves as an upper mid table Premier League team, with a constant stream of talent arriving in the first team from their famed academy at St. Mary’s. This season it has been supplemented by other like Emile-Pierre Höjbjerg from Bayern Munich, who has integrated into the team quickly.
Claude Puel’s side have not done very well early in the season, and are well off the pace of the other top teams. Another man who could trouble City is Nathan Redomond, another sigining who has integrated very well and has looked sharp from the very first game.
Their 3-0 hammering of West Ham gave the image of a team beginning to find its attacking feet, and they will hope to do just that while remaining defensively solid as well.
The Citizens under Guardiola have looked imperious this term, with close passing and the clever utilisation of space being the hallmarks of Guardiola’s men. Although Pellegrini and Mancini have elevated City from mid table strugglers to champions of England, Guardiola is going for the kind of footballing dominance that United, Liverpool and Arsenal enjoyed in their golden periods respectively.
The best example of this transformation is perhaps Raheem Sterling, a man who was lambasted for his price tag, something he had no control over, as well as his performances over which he had considerable control.
This season Sterling has hit top gear, with four goals and two assists to his name already. Being level on points with Arsenal, it is going to be important for City to not lose this one, especially as Arsenal face Middlesbrough which is an eminently winnable contest for the Gunners.
Their head to head record speaks for itself, with City the victors on 12 occasions out of 24.
The last meeting between them was a goal fest though, with Southampton outscoring the Citizens 4-2 in a thrilling encounter. City have stumbled a bit in their last two matches which have been a draw and a loss respectively, the draw will rankle more as they missed two penalties against Everton. Southampton meanwhile have had a mixed draw with two draws, two wins and a loss in their last five games.
Southampton will be looking to make one of their trademark smash and grabs against a top Premier League team, as they have done so often against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola has already been welcomed to the uncertainty of the Premier League by his haul of 1 point out of a possible six, following a draw and a loss in the last two games, and he will need his team to be at the best if he is to take 3 points from Claude Puel’s team.