Southampton host Manchester City on Saturday at St. Mary’s Stadium. This ‘upstairs-downstairs’ clash sees two sides go head-to-head with very different, but equally important, fights on their hands.
While Rubén Sellés and his Saints side desperately look for points to lift them off the bottom and out of the drop-zone, his compatriot Pep Guardiola has his eye firmly fixed on leaders Arsenal and another Premier League title.
We preview the match and reveal the Opta supercomputer’s thoughts in our Southampton vs Man City prediction.
Southampton vs Man City: Quick Hits
- Man City are, as expected, predicted to beat Southampton (74.2%) by the Opta supercomputer.
- Southampton have struggled to stop their opponents from scoring in the Premier League at St. Mary’s this season, registering only one clean sheet on home soil, the fewest of any side in the top-flight.
- Manchester City are currently enjoying their longest winning run of the Premier League season (four games) and are looking to win five in a row for the first time since April/May last season.
Saturday’s late game sees a clash between two sides with very different fights on their hands. Hosts Southampton find themselves cemented to the bottom of the table, a sizeable four points from safety, while Premier League behemoths, Manchester City, continue to chase down Arsenal in search of a third consecutive top-flight title.
As has been the case all season, these two sides endured differing fortunes last time out.
Southampton took a trip to east London on Sunday, knowing a result against fellow relegation-battlers, West Ham, could kickstart a timely survival surge. However, Nayef Aguerd’s first goal for the Hammers decided the game, with the visitors failing to score for the 12th time this season, with only Bournemouth (14) and Crystal Palace (13) drawing a blank in the top-flight more often this season.
January-signing Paul Onuachu came closest to scoring for Saints, only to see his late effort come back off the frame of the goal. However, once again, a lack of cutting-edge cost the Hampshire side dearly.
While Southampton toiled in the capital, the Cityzens triumphed in Manchester, outgunning their recent title rivals Liverpool to the tune of four goals to one. The Reds did open the scoring via Mohamed Salah, but that turned out to be the Reds’ only shot on target of the game (City had eight), and Jürgen Klopp’s underperforming charges were ultimately no match for a rampant home side who strode on to a deserved 4-1 win, their fourth consecutive league victory this season and Guardiola’s 100th home victory in the Premier League.
That victory kept the pressure on leaders Arsenal, who themselves enjoyed a 4-1 home win on Saturday, comfortably dismissing a visiting Leeds to keep the gap at the top to eight points, albeit having played a game more than City.
With Southampton coming into this clash four games without a win and Manchester City enjoying a four-game winning streak, the contrast in fortunes could hardly be more stark.
Saints fans may well be bracing themselves for a bumpy ride at half past five on Saturday, with this football lark, you just never know what will happen, do you!?
Southampton 2-0 Manchester City: 11 January 2023 (EFL Cup quarter-final)
One thing which will be top of the agenda in Sellés’ pre-match team-talk on Saturday will be the last meeting between these two teams. Southampton won that game, an EFL Cup quarter-final in January at St. Mary’s, 2-0, courtesy of first half strikes from Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo.
That victory, which will give Saints some semblance of hope for the weekend, was their first win over City in seven games and only their second triumph in their last 16 against the Mancunian giants.
So how did they do it? Well, a questionable performance from City ‘keeper Stefan Ortega didn’t help the visitor’s cause, but while Guardiola rested some of his first-choice players ahead of a Premier League Manchester derby, that hardly stands up as an excuse for a deep squad so full of riches. Indeed, it was a vibrant Southampton, under the tutelage of Nathan Jones, who deserved the victory, mustering 12 shots to City’s seven and limiting the visitors to a big fat zero shots on target at full-time.
However, in the Premier League, Southampton have tasted victory just once in their last 13 meetings with City, drawing three and losing a sizeable nine, including a heavy 0-4 defeat at the Etihad in October.
As for City, they have come away with all three points on four of their last six league visits to St. Mary’s, although they could only manage a share of the spoils in this fixture last season, courtesy of a 1-1 draw.
Each of the last 10 sides to face Manchester while bottom of the table have lost, a run stretching back to March 2016. Indeed, City haven’t conceded a goal in a game against a team starting bottom in any of their last 14 such matches, with Connor Wickham scoring the last such goal for Sunderland in April 2014. Bottom placed sides have played 21 hours and seven minutes of football against Man City since then without finding the net. So that bodes well for the misfiring Saints, right!?
Southampton come into this big game on the back of four games without a win. Sellés started his challenging term as Saints boss in impressive fashion, winning two of his first three league games.
Since then, the new-manager bounce has rapidly deflated, with the Spaniard winless in his last four with the south-coast side, drawing two (away to Man Utd and at home to Tottenham) and losing two (at home to Brentford and away at West Ham) and seeing his side fail to score in three of those fixtures. The only game they scored in across this run was the 3-3 home draw with Spurs, in which Theo Walcott, Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse netted in.
Misfiring in front of goal hasn’t been Southampton’s only issue, however, as they have managed to keep a clean sheet in just three of their last 18 top-flight games overall. While, on home soil, the south coast side have registered just one shutout in 2022-23, the fewest of any side in the Premier League.
Manchester City may have suffered a few uncharacteristic slip-ups themselves this season, but they are now certainly hitting their stride once again, unbeaten in their last seven in the league, including four wins in their last four, their longest league winning run of 2022-23.
Across all competitions, Guardiola’s side have won seven games in a row, defeating Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Liverpool in the league in addition to a 7-0 UEFA Champions League rout of RB Leipzig and a 6-0 demolition of Burnley in the FA Cup. Erling Haaland’s scored 10 goals across this winning run, but all eyes will be on the pre kick-off announcement of the two line-ups to see if he’s recovered from injury in time.
Man City’s away recent away form in the league has been somewhat patchy in comparison, with two defeats and a draw in their last six away from the Etihad Stadium. However, their last four have ended in three victories and one draw, with nine goals scored and just three shipped in those games.
Southampton: James Ward-Prowse
While 2022-23 has been a difficult campaign for Southampton, one player has continued to shine.
Midfielder James Ward-Prowse has enjoyed another fine season, providing consistency and, even more importantly, goals for his struggling side. Saints’ captain leads the way for his side with seven goals in the league this season, three of those coming via direct free kicks. Indeed, Ward-Prowse’s prowess (not easy to say) from dead-ball situations is quite astonishing, with the commendably one-club man now on 17 direct-free goals in the Premier League following his strike at Chelsea in February, just one shy of David Beckham’s record in the competition (18).
Ward-Prowse also likes a spot-kick, with the England man converting each of Southampton’s last 16 Premier League penalty and direct free-kick goals combined (eight pens, eight DFKs). In Premier League history, the only Matt Le Tissier, also for Saints, has managed a longer run for a team, between 1992 and 1995 (20 in a row).
Manchester City: Jack Grealish
Among a universe of sparking superstars, from Kevin de Bruyne to Erling Haaland to Phil Foden, England’s Jack Grealish has been shining brighter than ever in the second half of this season. After somewhat struggling to live up to his hefty £100million price-tag, the former Aston Villa man has since proven himself to more than just a nice pair of calves with some bullish, match-winning displays.
Since the return of the Premier League in December post-World Cup, the winger has been directly involved in eight Premier League goals, an impressive haul bettered only by Erling Haaland (12) and Riyad Mahrez (nine) among City players.
Grealish was among the scorers and also assisted last time out against Liverpool and is now looking to score in consecutive league appearances for the first time since October 2020 and assist in consecutive games for the first time since February 2021, doing both with Villa.
Southampton vs Man City Prediction
A look into Opta’s crystal ball aka our much-loved supercomputer, makes tough reading for Southampton fans, who have just an 8.5% chance of securing a priceless win in this Premier League match on Saturday.
Saints have struggled against Premier League high-flyers, failing to secure a win in their last 16 meetings with sides starting the day in the top four (D7 L9), although draws in their last two, away to Manchester United and at home to Tottenham Hotspur will marginally add to their hopes of a result this weekend.
Southampton will come into this game having spent 165 days in the relegation zone this season, more than any other side and 67% of their total time in the top-flight this season. So, the only way is up… right!?
As for title-chasers, Manchester City, they are predicted to extend their four-game winning league run, with a hefty 74.2% chance of taking all three points back with them from the south coast. They’ll hope for a victory to set them up nicely for a huge UCL clash with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in midweek.
The Cityzens do enjoy their April outings, skipping with a spring in their step to wins in each of their last nine away league games in the month. In those games they bagged 23 goals and shipped just four across those victories, which makes victory at St. Mary’s this week look nailed on.
As for the season as whole, Southampton’s chances of starting next season in the second-tier for the first time since 2011-12 is now a terrifying 83.5%. We aren’t handing out betting tips, but it’s not looking good for the south-coast club.
City’s chances of a hat-trick of consecutive Premier League titles comes in at a healthy 44.6% according to the Opta supercomputer, with lots of twists and turns (at both ends of the standings) yet to come.