EPL Betting Preview: Manchester City vs. Southampton – Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018
Matchup at a Glance
When: Sunday, December 30, 2018, at 09:15 AM
Where: St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England.
Odds: Southampton +900, Draw +440, Manchester City -345 @ BetOnline
Before a potentially season-deciding clash against Liverpool at home on Thursday, Manchester City heads to the South coast where Southampton will try to avoid another dreadful defeat by the reigning champions.
Manchester City has won their last four matches against the Saints by an aggregate score of 12-2. The worst one came earlier this season (November 4) when Pep Guardiola's side won 6-1 at home.
However, the Citizens have never won five in a row against Southampton in the Premier League.
Southampton (17th), on the other hand, have won only one of their last 11 Premier League meetings with Manchester City (2 draws and 8 defeats), winning 4-2 at home in the 2015-16 season.
After the inspiring back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Huddersfield Town, Ralph Hasenhuttl suffered his first Premier League setback to an in-form West Ham United on the day after Boxing Day. Nevertheless, the Saints can draw out positives from their recent performances and Hasenhuttl's appointment definitely revived the spirits.
Anyway, despite positive beginnings, Ralph Hasenhuttl will need some time to impose his philosophy but it's undeniable that his players look enthusiastic to adapt to his work ethics.
Nathan Redmond is one of the players who look fired up under the new manager and he has either scored or assisted in the last three games (2 goals, 2 assists). That's a brilliant record especially when we consider Redmond has failed to assist or score a goal in previous 16 matches.
Despite the midweek loss to West Ham, Hasenhuttl should stick with the 3-4-2-1 formation where Stuart Armstrong and Danny Ings form an attacking triangle alongside Redmond.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is available again following suspension and the Dane should return in central midfield, most likely at the expense of Mario Lemina.
Ryan Bertrand's recovery lasts longer than expected and the left-back remains doubtful. However, Cedric Soares is back in contention after a spell on the sidelines and could replace youngster Yan Valery at right wingback.
Since Ralph Hasenhutt’s arrival, there has been a notable change in Southampton’s style as the attackers relentlessly press the opposition’s defense and this opens a wonderful opportunity for the young Irishman with Nigerian roots Michael Obafemi. The 18-years-old forward already became the youngest ever Southampton goalscorer but is questionable ahead of the upcoming round.
Pep Guardiola's men will start the game in third place, having lost three of their last four league matches. Moreover, if Spurs beat Wolves on Saturday, City won't be able to regain the second spot even if they defeat Southampton, while the gap between them and leaders Liverpool can be up to 10 points if the Merseysiders beat Arsenal at home.
The Sky Blues need to forget they host Liverpool in their first game in 2019 and start their best team at Southampton, to get back to winning ways. They have lost two consecutive Premier League outings for the first time in more than two years and those who are more anxious will say it's been a mini-crisis.
Fernandinho's absence seems to be vital and Pep Guardiola will relish to have him back as soon as possible, although he may not risk him against Southampton if the Brazilian isn't fully fit.
“Ferna, Gabriel Jesus and Kompany have been in training.” – Guardiola told to media in his pre-match conference. The trio missed Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester but the Spaniard won't rush them into the starting lineup.
As well as being without some important players, it would also help City if their opponents would stop scoring wonder goals against them. They have also conceded with the first shot they have faced in three of their past four league games.
But, regardless of the circumstances, they have lost some of the aura they once had and City's attack struggles to compensate the not so solid defense. Indeed, after a run of six consecutive clean sheets, the Citizens have conceded in eight of their last nine games, starting from the aforementioned 6-1 win over Southampton in early-November.
Pep Guardiola will be forced into a change due to Fabian Delph's suspension (he was sent off against Leicester City), but will no doubt be making a few more. With Benjamin Mendy injured, Oleksandr Zinchenko or Danilo are both options to start at left-back, while the likes of Kyle Walker and Nicolas Otamendi could also return to the starting XI.
With Fernandinho still likely to miss out, Pep must find a solution in midfield, with fit again David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. However, they're attacking-minded players and Ilkay Gundogan may have to play the defensive-midfielder role once again.
Raheem Sterling, who is directly involved in 10 goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances against the Saints (six goals, four assists), and Sergio Aguero will most likely fill in the attacking line, while Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez can sit on the bench.
Possible Starting Lineups of Southampton and Manchester City
Southampton: Alex McCarthy – Jannik Vestergaard, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek – Matt Targett, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oriol Romeu, Cedric Soares – Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong – Danny Ings. (3-4-2-1)
Manchester City: Ederson – Oleksandr Zinchenko, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Kyle Walker – Ilkay Gundogan – Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva – Sergio Aguero. (4-1-4-1)
Expect Another Match Where Both Teams Will Score
Man City simply must react to their recent downfall with a proper victory, otherwise, Pep Guardiola's side may have to take on Liverpool being under serious pressure.
Southampton could take advantage of City's defensive issues and knowing Ralph Hasenhuttl's approach, the Saints won't be mentally humble as in the last meeting.
Man City's superiority is out of the question but we have all reasons to believe both teams are capable of scoring once again. It was a winning bet in five of their last seven Premier League encounters.