City to exorcise demons – SOUTHAMPTON v MAN CITY

It was a case of Sin City last time Manchester’s boys in blue went up against the Saints as Mancini’s men virtually gift wrapped the title for the Trafford troglodytes.

The 3-1 defeat at St Mary’s was typified by a Joe Hart howler and a gorgeous Gareth Barry right foot strike…past the aforementioned City keeper, in City’s poorest ‘performance’ of a disappointing defence of their Premier League crown.

Irony of ironies, both Joe and Gareth will be absent from City’s line-up against a Southampton side boasting more England internationals than Manuel Pellegrini’s star-studded cosmopolitan collection of global ‘names’.

Trust Our MP - City are doing it the Pellegrini way as Manuel's methods bear fruit

Trust Our MP – City are doing it the Pellegrini way as Manuel’s methods bear fruit

Lambert, Lallana and Rodriquez will most likely start against a City side which, at a stretch, might include James Milner from the outset. Messrs Hart, Richards, Rodwell and Lescott are likely benchwarmers, with Pellegrini favouring the Spanish-Latino approach.

Not that City fans will be complaining if a non-English XI can secure a third away PL win of the season and ramp up the pressure,  before league leading Arsenal come to the Etihad.

Wednesday’s romp at West Brom (the 3-2 scoreline doesn’t come close to reflecting City’s dominance) could finally signal that City are stepping up to the PL title challenge, both home and away.

As the top flight’s goal-scoring gluttons (City have hit 40, 10 more than anyone else) they would have been forgiven for thinking they might have been coming up against the league’s stingiest defence, with Saints having conceded just five goals in their first 11 games.

Unstoppable - Sergio is searching for his 18th goal and beyond at St.Mary's

Unstoppable – Sergio is searching for his 18th goal and beyond at St.Mary’s

But Mauricio Pochettino’s over achievers have leaked eight goals in the last three matches as they’ve slumped to a trio of consecutive defeats – the team’s worst run under his watch.

The surprise package of the first third of the season, Southampton lost two key performers in the mid-week reversal to Aston Villa. Injuries to Victor Wanyama and Nathaniel Clyne will further weaken a team already having a bit of a wobble.

It bodes well for City who are bristling with confidence now that their on-field leader, Vincent Kompany, is bank in the ranks.

In stark contrast to Southampton, City are on their best PL run under Pellegrini and a win at St. Mary’s would be their fourth on the bounce. It would secure a top three place, possibly get them into second spot, before Wenger’s boys go head-to-head with City next weekend in the big early season shoot-out.

Woe betide City if they are stupid enough to get beyond themselves. Pellegrini should play video footage of the shameful shambles from last February to avoid any hint of complacency.

Captain Kompany - City's leader makes a massive difference to the whole team

Captain Kompany – City’s leader makes a massive difference to the whole team

It’s incredible to think that this game is, in the greater scheme of things, more important than playing Bayern Munich – the reigning European Champions – in the final Group D fixture in the Champions League. Three points dropped in Bavaria will do far less damage than if City were to once again fall to the Saints.

A win, and it needs to be a win, against injury stricken Saints, will maintain the gathering momentum behind Manuel’s marauders, which still has them as the bookies favourites for the PL crown.

Whether Pellegrini opts to tinker with the perpetually changing back four remains to be seen. Matija Nastasic will be missing due to an ongoing calf injury, so veteran Demichelis could be pitted against raging bull, Rickie Lambert.

Keeping Kompany company? - will Martin Demichelis be partnering Vincent at Southampton

Keeping Kompany company? – will Martin Demichelis be partnering Vincent at Southampton

Costel Pantilimon is almost certain to retain his place despite conceding two goals – one an own goal – at The Hawthorns. In fairness he was not culpable for either.

With David Silva likely missing – or perhaps lined up for a cameo appearance from the sub’s bench – the magnificent Samir Nasri will continue with the lightning Jesus Navas, as the architects for City’s goal flow.

Supported by the midfield platform of the fast emerging Fernandinho and the formidable Yaya Toure, City will endeavour to keep the supply lines stocked for super Sergio and every PL defender’s nightmare, Alvaro Negredo.

On present form, Aguero is being bracketed with Messi and Ronaldo among the elite group of strikers across the globe. 16 goals scored in the last 14 matches is reason enough for Southampton to be apprehensive about the Argentine hitman…and that’s before they contemplate a hungry Beast, chomping at the bit after Negredo was ‘rested’ for the trip to the Black Country.

Four away defeats and the slipshod showing of conceding two goals in the last five minutes at WBA will surely mean City will be ultra wary of producing a sub-standard performance.

Toure de force - Yaya needs to turn up the power and blow Saints away

Toure de force – Yaya needs to turn up the power and blow Saints away

It’s a game that will test City’s resolve and one that fits perfectly into the football cliché bracket of needing to ‘earn the right to play’.

City’s best form of defence is attack, so in the same way as they binned Steve Clarke’s previously resolute Baggies, they need to put Saints on the back foot from the off.

High octane, fast flowing football should get the job done and that means keeping both Dzeko and Garcia off the field of play.

That may sound harsh but City’s loyal travelling support want to see players prepared to give their all.

Fans who pay top dollar and travel the length and breadth of the country will not put up with ‘passengers’ in their team. Some high profile prima donnas have done little or nothing to address negative perceptions in recent weeks.

Speed King - Navas is goal scorer and supplier since joining City

Speed King – Navas is goal scorer and supplier since joining City

In this, the most hotly contested of PL seasons, City have already slipped up more than they could have envisaged, and yet still find themselves right in the mix.

Who knows, City may have already had their dip in form? Just savour that thought for a moment…

Traditionally we’ve always had to listen to the media waxing lyrical about Manure and their big post Christmas surge to the title. How it would stick in their craw if it were the blue side of Manchester who powered through the New Year to glory.

Saints and sinners has an almost biblical connotation to it.

On that basis City must do unto others as they would have them do to you. If you relate that back to last February the lesson is clear – City have to exorcise their demons and stuff Southampton.


By David Walker #READBUTNEVERRED @djwskyblu






  1. December 6, 2013  11:46 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Yes, a repeat of the start, and its' continuation, would be most welcome tomorrow. It seems we may be lucky as Southampton have several out, or major doubts, but that should be ignored. I still think it could be a tricky game, but, 2-1 to City for me.

  2. December 7, 2013  12:07 am by David Walker Reply

    Not arrogance, but City could & should win this one. Very poor show if we can't, especially given Southampton's casualty list.

  3. December 7, 2013  1:11 am by Simon Dear Reply

    Over confidence will be our only enemy, and if we keep it tight then we should have enough to carve out another 3 points - The beast will be hungry so lets hope we can ring the dinner bell for him, and Aguero can mop up around him, I'm still not convinced that MP knows how to close a game out in the EPL . Mancini just went 5 at the back , but MP seems to tinker with the midfield players and move forwards around, which upsets the rythm and puts us on the back foot . If away matches were 70 mins long then we would be 7 points better off so it's either fitness, concentration, application, or Garcia.

    • December 7, 2013  3:44 am by David Walker Reply

      It may be a bit of all three, but given Saints' loss of form & bodies, we really should be winning and City really should negotiating with someone - anyone - to move Garcia on!

  4. December 7, 2013  6:55 am by pete lynch Reply

    love thy neighbour? I think not! A must win game and mid table manure slipping further away would be a perfect forerunner to my birthday treat on the 14th against the gunners. Superb piece again David, thank you.

    • December 7, 2013  7:46 am by David Walker Reply

      We'll all be gunning for you to have a brilliant birthday a week today Pete! Cheers fella #MCFCBLUEBROS

  5. December 7, 2013  7:18 am by Grant Mills Reply

    Another good read. Hopefully Negredo is back and we can get another win. Won't be easy though. Come on City.

    • December 7, 2013  7:50 am by David Walker Reply

      Surely The Beast will be unleashed after resting up midweek. If MP's master plan was to create even more hunger & desire by holding him back on Wednesday then we should see the rewards this afternoon!

  6. December 7, 2013  10:06 am by lghualways Reply

    Yes, hopefully the beast is back. Agree with your summary of us fans who can forgive a lot if we see full shift being put in and dzeko could not look less interested if he tried. Growth of Fernandino and absence of wanyama means city 2-0. You are 100% spot in that this game IS more important than Bayern. Crazy but true as gunners next week wouldspeciaholidahectar

    • December 7, 2013  11:13 am by David Walker Reply

      Funny old world - beating Saints is more significant than Bayern...on this occasion. Might be different in May if we're both in Lisbon!

  7. December 7, 2013  10:07 am by lghualways Reply

    sorry tablet went mad at end. Travel safely blues

    • December 7, 2013  11:26 am by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely #MCFCAWAYDAYS go to see City & come home safely...with all 3 points.

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