Southampton attack could test Man City
Champions chasing 100 points
Sky Sports Mix, 3pm Sunday
Pep Guardiola insists he and his team are determined to cap a remarkable season with a win but there has been an end-of-term feel to Manchester City over the past couple of weeks.
City head for Southampton in pursuit of a record 32nd win of the season and 100 points and they are a short price to do it.
That will have them frothing at the mouth at Opta and in the Sky Sports newsroom, but the impression is that Guardiola isn’t overly fussed either way. His job was to win the title and he did that at a canter.
Over the last week they have delivered fitful performances against Huddersfield and Brighton, drawing one, winning the other, in which picking up a trophy and waving farewell to Yaya Toure seemed to be all that really bothered them.
Usually, you would have to come up with a seriously strong argument for opposing City, and the idea that they aren’t perhaps as sharp as they were earlier in this extraordinary season isn’t the most compelling.
But the last day of the season isnot the day for putting big momney on a 4-9 shot away from home against a Southampton side who, by any measure, are improving.
Indeed, having a small interest on the 8-1 hosts is preferred.
Forget the notion that Mark Hughes’s men need a draw to stay up. For one thing Swansea, who need three points to even have the remotest chance of overhauling Saints, might well struggle to beat Stoke. Then there’s the small matter of the goal difference, on which the English club are currently ahead by nine.
But more than that, Southampton aren’t good defensively and it’s hard to imagine them trying to play for a stalemate against a City side who, however indifferent they may be, will dominate the ball and carve out chances.
The disconnect between Mauricio Pellegrino and the Southampton dressing room looks more acute than ever now that he’s gone because the same group of players are buzzing under Sparky.
Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond are getting a freedom to roam behind Charlie Austin, who has been unlucky in front of goal.
Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares and loving their wing-back roles and they have been much the better side in wins against Bournemouth and Swansea and were far superior to Everton in their 1-1 draw at Goodison.
They gave City one of the champions’ tougher games in November – Raheem Sterling’s injury-time special settled the contest – and they are a far more confident team with the crowd at St Mary’s finally at their backs rather than on them.
It could be a decent, open affair with plenty of attacking endeavour from both sides and a fair few goals.
The last 13 fixtures between these clubs have produced at least two goals each time and both teams to score and over 2.5 goals has copped in 18 of City’s league games. It looks a decent bet once again.
Both teams to score & over 2.5 goals
2pts Evs BoyleSports, Coral, Sky Bet
1pt 8-1 Betfred
Jan Bednarek joins Steven Davis on the sidelines. However, Maya Yoshida returns from a ban. Mario Lemina is a doubt while Sofiane Boufal is out of the picture.
Sergio Aguero is out. David Silva is a doubt after flying back to Spain. Pep Guardiola made changes against Brighton and will do so again.
Southampton haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 12 clashes with City, conceding 27 goals.
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