Saturday, 9 February 2013

Match Preview: Southampton vs Manchester City

The return of the Toure brothers...

By Aaron Leggott

Last weekend's draw at home to Liverpool put a huge dent in City's hopes to retain the Premier League title, as the gap between the sides was stretched to nine points.

It has created a similar situation to the one we put ourselves in last season, where our defeat at the Emirates Stadium on Easter Sunday made winning the league almost impossible. 

Roberto Mancini and his backroom staff know that they have to approach every game with a must-win mentality if we are to pip our rivals to the title for the second consecutive season. 
In all honesty, we were extremely fortunate to even get a point last weekend, so in hindsight, it could very well be a point gained in a game where we were outclassed from start to finish. 

Our opponents today also approach this game after some disappointing results for new manager Mauricio Pochettino in recent weeks. 

Draws against Everton and Wigan and a defeat at Old Trafford do not really reflect the start Pochettino has enjoyed as Southampton's new manager, and on another day they could've ended up with a nine point return.

Their performance at Old Trafford in particular would've been extremely encouraging for Saints fans in their bid to stay in the Premier League, but with a number of injuries they know that today's game could be an extremely difficult affair knowing that City have to win at all costs.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to Southampton fan Connor Armstrong who gave us his views on the upcoming game. 

Who do you think will be City's key player and why?

Connor: I think it's likely to be Tevez. He was a thorn in our side at the Etihad, and following the news that all four of the (probably 1st choice) back four are likely to be out injured for Saints, his movement, intelligence and finishing worries me.

You were extremely unlucky in the reverse fixture at the Etihad, do you think you can put another dent in City's title odds this weekend?

Connor: Not at all. On our injury list at current are Clyne, Fonte, Forren, Shaw, Do Prado and Ramirez. I simply think that is too much class lost, especially in the defensive department. I'd be optimistic of scoring, but expect to be pushed aside. 

Who do you think will be your key player and why? 

Connor: Morgan Schneiderlin. The holding man and playmaker has been integral this season and one of our best performers in games against Arsenal, United and Chelsea. In fact, he's been sublime pretty much all season. Another key man if he starts is Adam Lallana as he offers a great deal in the final third and really makes the team click. Lambert will be important, as always. 

Predicted Saints' line-up?

Connor: Right, if I'm going to have a punt I'd say (4-2-3-1): Boruc, Cork, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox; Schneiderlin, Davis; Puncheon, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert. 

What are your views on the sacking of Nigel Adkins and do you think Mauricio Pochettino can keep you in the Premier League?

Connor: Like a lot of Saints fans, I was disappointed by the sacking of Nigel Adkins. I felt it could've been handled better and was poor treatment of a man who had put us back on the footballing map. I wish Nigel every success and will follow his career closely. However, Pochettino has encouraged me greatly since his arrival. He already speaks reasonable English (just not with the press) and has some good ideas. He seems very enthusiastic, wise and effective with his substitutions. He's a new breed but I have enjoyed the changes we have already seen. One example of this being that we are now pressing far more, all over the pitch. He comes with a good reputation in Spain and I hope he can continue to adapt quickly to the English game and grow with Southampton.

And finally... who will win the league, City or United?

Connor: As much as I dislike them, United. But.. come on City!!!

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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