Southampton vs. Manchester City: Can high-flying Saints keep it up?

After a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday that many Saints fans might have seen as disappointing at the time, the side still sits third in the Premier League thirteen matches into the season on a run of three unbeaten.

Southampton will play host to Manchester City on Saturday as the eighth-placed side hopes to right the ship after back-to-back draws in league play to West Bromwich and rival Manchester United. Pep Guardiola’s side has struggled just a bit this season out the gate, eight points behind Liverpool at the top of the league and four behind Saints.

However, this is still an incredibly talented Manchester City side under a top-notch manager who will look to end Ralph Hasenhuttl’s hot run to start the season, having lost only once in their previous eleven league matches.

Ralph’s side will look to be at full health once again with everyone making their return against Arsenal earlier in the week. Manchester City will likely be without Oleksandr Zinchenko and Eric Garcia.

How Southampton Will Win

With a fully healthy squad now, it would be a shock to see a vast rotation in the starting XI from the Arsenal match. Saints will need to press early and often to keep the points at home and minimize some of the mistakes they made against the Gunners.

With Danny Ings back healthy, he’ll need to find goals again against a tough Manchester City side after going goalless in back-to-back matches. If he and Che Adams are able to press City early and often and get some early goals, the side could easily find themselves retaining all three points at St. Mary’s in what looks to be an entertaining bout.

Saints defense will need to continue their solid performances thus far, including Alex McCarthy who currently sits second in the league with five clean sheets. If they can minimize mistakes and keep disciplined, they may be able to keep City’s talented attack at bay.

Fortunately, City have struggled this season relative to recent years finding goals, scoring a league twelfth 18 goals on the campaign, while Saints have scored a league third 25.

How Manchester City Will Win

With five of City’s eighteen league goals coming in a 5-0 victory over Burnley in November, it’s safe to say the side have been struggling to find goals this season. If Pep’s squad want to take the  points on the South Coast, they’ll have to right their goal-scoring issues against an in-form Saints defense.

With Sergio Aguero slowly returning to fitness, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him get the start over Gabriel Jesus, who has only scored twice on the season.

Riyad Mahrez has been the side’s leading scorer with four league goals but hasn’t scored since his hat-trick in the side’s 5-0 victory over Burney at the end of November.

For City to take the points, they’ll need one of their attacking players to step up and score after a season full of inconsistencies for the side, with their defense containing a hot Saints attack looking to keep their side in the top five.

Predicted Lineups

Southampton: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alex McCarthy

Defenders: Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Jannick Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand

Midfielders: Theo Walcott, James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Stuart Armstrong

Strikers: Che Adams, Danny Ings

Manchester City: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Ederson

Defenders: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo

Midfielders:  Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne

Forwards: Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling

Predicted Score

Southampton 2 – Manchester City 1

I believe Ralph’s side will come out swinging at St. Mary’s, scoring an early goal while City levels it around the halftime mark. Look for a late goal from Saints to take all three points, maybe from a subbed on Nathan Redmond or Moussa Djenepo.