Manchester City vs Southampton predictions: City to cruise to victory
Things are beginning to look ominous for the rest of the Premier League with Manchester City clicking into the sort of form that suggests resistance is futile.
Their campaign started impressively enough, with City staying unbeaten and thrashing the likes of Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest.
But a couple of unexpected draws against Newcastle and Aston Villa kept expectations grounded and their title rivals interested.
However, since slipping to a stalemate at Villa, Pep Guardiola’s men have scored 20 goals in winning each of the next five games, thrashing Manchester United 6-3 in the Premier League while pummelling Sevilla and FC Copenhagen in the Champions League, where they have also seen off Borussia Dortmund.
How the Citizens cut through United last weekend suggests Guardiola’s side might quickly prove unstoppable on the domestic front, outclassing their city rivals to a far greater degree than the scoreline suggested.
Now it is up to Southampton to try and halt the Citizens’ charge – but the Saints have twice lost 9-0 under Ralph Hasenhuttl and will know that anything but a near-perfect performance could see them as the next opponent torn apart by a frightening City side.
Guardiola could be without as many as four of his defensive-minded players.
Centre-back John Stones and defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips will miss out, with Stones a week or so away from returning from a hamstring injury and Phillips in a race to be fit for the World Cup as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Right-back Kyle Walker limped off before half-time in last weekend’s Manchester derby and has since had surgery on his groin, putting his World Cup ambitions on hold.
However, defensive midfielder Rodri returned to the squad against Copenhagen in midweek and will be back in contention, albeit likely to start on the bench.
Southampton have only two players unavailable, with right-back Tino Livramento out until early January as he recovers from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and midfielder Romeo Lavia expected to be a week or two from returning after a hamstring problem.
Southampton have scored in eight of their last 10 league and cup matches against Manchester City but have only once managed to score more than once against them in 14 meetings – a 5-2 defeat at the Etihad in March 2021.
Saints have also lost 10 of the last 13 meetings and have won only one. However, both draws in that run came in last season’s Premier League encounters, which ended 1-1 at St Mary’s and 0-0 in Manchester.
They look up against it this season, though, as the Saints have dipped in form and are now creating fewer goalscoring opportunities than ever under Hasenhuttl.
This season they are averaging just 1.05 expected goals per game when previously their lowest average xG rating per game under the Austrian was 1.12 in 2020-21.
By contrast, City have been even more dominant. Guardiola’s men have averaged 68% possession in all games and have allowed more than 0.5 expected goals against them in only three of their 11 outings.
It is difficult to make a case for any side facing Manchester City, with Guardiola boasting so much quality in his squad that it is hard to find any weaknesses.
The headlines have understandably focused on Erling Haaland’s incredible goalscoring feats – his 14 goals in just eight Premier League games mean he is only nine off of last season’s Golden Boot-winning tally – but in Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, City boast potential match-winners right across the frontline and midfield.
City have slipped up on a couple of occasions to drop points against Newcastle and Aston Villa, but they should have buried Villa on the balance of play, and even when slightly off-colour against Newcastle, they were only denied victory by Nick Pope, who was in inspired form in goal.
Southampton are not playing at anywhere near their best form and offer little evidence to suggest they can pinch a point.
True, Hasenhuttl’s men beat Chelsea 2-1 at St Mary’s and probably deserved more against Manchester United in the 1-0 defeat on the South Coast.
However, City are a different beast to a Blues side in the death throes of Thomas Tuchel’s reign and a United outfit who have been nowhere near their best this season.
City did have the distraction of a Champions League tie against Copenhagen in midweek, but not only did Guardiola rest key men such as De Bruyne and Foden, but such was their dominance against the Danes that he withdrew Haaland at half-time for youngster Cole Palmer, while Joao Cancelo and Silva were also brought off midway through the second half for City academy players.
The Citizens followed up their last European outing with a 3-0 Premier League win — away at Wolves — and will expect a similar level of victory against Southampton, with a split stakes 3-0 or 4-0 success looking a sensible play at 6/1 and 15/2 respectively via LiveScore Bet.