It’s a trip to St. Mary’s and Southampton for Pep Guardiola and the Premier League’s runaway leaders as the Blues look to their sensational winning run.
City will enter the game against Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side ELEVEN points ahead at the top of the table, with their nearest rivals not playing until the following day. That means a win on the South Coast would put Guardiola’s team fourteen points ahead of Liverpool on Saturday night, the widest difference between the top two this season. With only sixteen games remaining, City will be thrilled to pick up another win on Saturday evening, if they get the three points.
Southampton’s season has gone exactly as predicted thus far, with Hassenhuttl’s team sitting comfortably twelfth in the league table. An overwhelming 4-1 win over Brentford lately would have had Saints fans hopeful that they might make a bid for the top half of the standings, or at least ninth, but the loss against Wolves would have quickly grounded them.
Their record versus the top six isn’t exactly enthralling. The Saints have yet to win a game against one of the conventional big six, but they have taken two points against the two Manchester teams – and may have been unlucky not to win both of those games.
Pep should be able to control minutes this year and avoid the situation of having only two fit central midfielders at times. There’s an FA Cup match against Fulham before City play Brentford at the Etihad, and then there’s the opening leg of the Champions League round of sixteen against Sporting before City face Spurs the following weekend.
Looking ahead, if City wins every league game leading up to the Manchester derby, they will undoubtedly have an insurmountable advantage for Liverpool to defend.