It will prove to be a difficult match-up between two sides that have similar qualities and weaknesses, particularly defensively with both sides often failing to keep consistent clean sheets.
The atmosphere at St Mary’s Stadum is sure to be loud and electric when the sides take to the pitch. Both teams are in desperate need of points to reach their personal objectives this season.
Southampton will be looking to get their third win in a row, after beating Crystal Palace 3-1 at St Mary’s and West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns. Whereas City will be looking to get another important three points in their battle to consolidate their top-four position.
I’d like to thank Luke for taking the time out to discuss the fixture with us and giving us such in-depth answers.
Have you been happy with Southampton’s season so far?
On the whole, it’s been a bit of a funny one. We’ve had highs and lows. The Europa League and the FA Cup were disastrous competitions for us, but the EFL Cup run was brilliant. If we finish in the top eight of the Premier League, it’s a solid season. If not, it’s somewhat underwhelming, because we’re better than West Brom and should be targeting a consistent place in the top eight.
What have you made of Claude Puel’s start to life in England, and what influence has he had?
It’s been tricky for Claude. I think it’s been really hard to judge. The tactics mid-season with the 4-3-3 amongst all the rotation were really hard to watch and hard to endure; it was turgid football and frustrations were rightly voiced. Since changing to the 4-2-3-1 though, it’s been a lot better, so we can’t be too angry now.
He’s influenced the youth involvement here. He’s handed debuts to the likes of Josh Sims and Jack Stephens, who are now regularly involved. That’s been good. He’s also improved players such as Oriol Romeu, Cedric Soares and Maya Yoshida massively.
What do you think is Southampton’s main threat going into this game?
Our main threat, if fit, is Manolo Gabbiadini. There’s no two ways about it. Since his arrival, he’s been unreal and I’m praying he’s passed fit for the match. If not, Nathan Redmond. He’s been really good since about February and is in an excellent patch of form.
What have you made of City’s season?
It was always going to be a transitional one. Pep is the best in the world and I see no reason why that should be denied. The Champions League was disappointing but I think you’ve got a good chance at the FA Cup this year. A trophy and a top four finish is solid for a first season. Pep’s developed a lot of players and has implemented his philosophy briefly. We’ll see the real Pep’s City next season.
Which City player/s are you most worried about and why?
To be honest, I’m nervous about every one of your front five! Leroy Sane is superb, Raheem Sterling is enigmatic, David Silva is effervescent and Kevin De Bruyne is world class. Sergio Aguero will fancy his chances against our defence and it’s going to be a big test against these players. I’d say Aguero is the key man.
What’s your score prediction for the game?
There will be goals. Both sides aren’t exactly in the best shape defensively but both possess the attacking talent to hurt teams. I’ll go with a 4-2 win for City, begrudgingly.
You can follow Luke on Twitter here – @LukeOsmanRS.