Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Manchester City
at the Etihad Stadium. The Citizens boast a perfect home record heading into this match - the only top-flight side to do so at this stage - and are looking to reclaim top spot from Liverpool following the Reds' draw
at Arsenal yesterday. The Saints, meanwhile, find themselves two points above
the relegation zone ahead of their toughest test of the season so far.
The visitors have struggled for goals once again this season, netting just six across their first 10 matches, and none in their last five, whereas Man City are scoring for fun. No side in European football's top five leagues has registered more shots than the Citizens' 81 this season - before yesterday's matches across the continent, at least - which all points to what should be a comfortable home win. If only football was that simple!
MANCHESTER CITY TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Bernardo, Fernandinho, D.Silva; Sane, Aguero, Sterling
SUBS: Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Delph, Mahrez, Jesus, Foden
Starting with a look at the home team, boss Pep Guardiola
has made one change to the side that beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Monday night. Riyad Mahrez, the matchwinner from that showdown at Wembley Stadium, is rewarded by being dropped to the bench! Leroy Sane
, who featured in the midweek EFL Cup win over Fulham, is instead restored to the forward line alongside Raheem Sterling
and Sergio Aguero
Aguero is one goal short of 150 in the Premier League, so this could be another milestone afternoon for the Argentinian striker. City are without Kevin De Bruyne today after the Belgian playmaker damaged his knee late on in the straightforward win over Fulham, and the two-goal hero of that match - Brahim Diaz - is also left out of the matchday squad. Ilkay Gundogan and Nicolas Otamendi also miss out through injury.
Sane for Mahrez aside, this is the XI that many expected Guardiola to field. John Stones was the only survivor in City's starting lineup for the win against Fulham, but Otamendi's absence means that he is used for a third time in a week, partnering the Citizens' only ever-present this term in Aymeric Laporte. The midfield three, meanwhile, is once again comprised of Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho and David Silva
SOUTHAMPTON TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: McCarthy; Soares, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand; Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Lemina; Long, Ings
SUBS: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Austin, Elyounoussi, Armstrong, Obafemi
Switching focus to the visiting side now, and Mark Hughes
- who spent a season-and-a-half at the Etihad Stadium earlier in his managerial career - has made three changes his starting lineup from the 0-0 draw with Newcastle United last weekend. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returns from illness and is drafted into central midfield, where he takes over from Oriol Romeu, while James Ward-Prowse is in for Mohamed Elyounoussi.
The third and final change is effectively like-for-like, as Shane Long replaces the injured Charlie Austin in attack. Hughes suggested after his side's latest goalless showing last weekend that he would consider ending his experiment of two strikers being used in tandem but, while Long has different qualities to the player he is replacing, this is still essentially a 4-4-2 formation. Also included in the starting XI is Nathan Redmond, who has had a league-high 19 shots without scoring this term.
Redmond will be used alongside Mario Lemina, who has no goals and just one assist from 10 Premier League starts this season. As Hughes mentioned in his pre-match press conference, it is down to the likes of Lemina, Redmond and the returning Ward-Prowse to help chip in with goals, although leading striker Danny Ings
must also step up. The Liverpool loanee netted three goals in his first five league outings but has since gone four without a goal.
Leroy Sane replaces Riyad Mahrez - Man City's matchwinner against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this week - in the hosts' only change from their most recent league outing. Southampton show three changes from the 0-0 draw with Newcastle United eight days ago, meanwhile, with Shane Long replacing the injured Charlie Austin in one of those alterations.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Manchester City have won seven of their last nine Premier League meetings with Southampton, drawing one and losing one with an aggregate scoreline of 22-9. The Saints are winless in eight visits to the Etihad Stadium in all competitions, losing seven of those, but the Citizens needed a 96th minute winner in this corresponding fixture last season.
City also needed a goal in the fourth minute of added time to see off Southampton on the final day of last season, taking up to the magical 100-point mark to round off a season to remember in style. The Citizens have pushed on in the opening few months of 2018-19, finding themselves top of the pile ahead of this latest matchday, although Liverpool's point at the Emirates Stadium yesterday knocked them down to second.
The Reds will ultimately see Saturday evening's draw in North London as a positive result, even if they did concede in the final 10 minutes, but it offers Chelsea and Manchester City a chance to climb above them. The Blues, who have surprised many with their start to the season under new boss Maurizio Sarri, play host to Crystal Palace a little later. As things stand, Liverpool have 27 points, Man City 26 and Chelsea 24.
City could therefore move a couple of points clear come the end of today, which is pretty ominous for their title rivals as they have already ticked off the Emirates Stadium, Anfield and Wembley Stadium. Last Monday's 1-0 victory away to Tottenham Hotspur was another massive result for the champions, as they did enough to hold off their opponents, despite not being at their best. Mahrez's early goal proved to be enough on the night.
Guardiola has been keen to write off the prospect of City matching last season's league achievements, when breaking all sorts of records en route to a third Premier League crown, but his side are arguably even stronger this time around. Aymeric Laporte was given the second half of last season to adapt, and he can now be considered one of the finest centre-backs anywhere on the continent, while summer signing Riyad Mahrez has also added something different in the final third.
Man City have conceded just three goals in their opening 10 Premier League matches, leaving them on par with the Chelsea side of 2004-05. They are just one clean sheet short of a club-record seven in a row in the top flight, and Ederson could become the first goalkeeper since Edwin van der Saar in 2008-09 to go seven games without conceding should he keep out shot-shy Southampton today.
Van der Saar, incidentally, went a truly incredible 14 matches without conceding for Manchester United that season - a record that will surely never be beaten. Man City have had less shots against them than Man United have conceded goals this season, which really is a remarkable statistic. Never mind scoring, opposition teams are struggling to so much as get efforts away on target.
City have not performed all that badly at the other end of the pitch, either, creating chances galore so far and scoring a league-high 27 goals - two better than next-best Arsenal, who have played a game more. In fact, the only real complaint that can be made against the champions so far this season is their profligate nature, with Guardiola criticising his players a couple of times in recent weeks for failing to put away chances.
That was the case on Thursday night as, despite the ease with which they held off Fulham in their 2-0 EFL Cup win, City really should have been well out of sight come full time. It is not hurting them too much at the moment, although they did squander the chance to dent Liverpool's title hopes last month when missing a late penalty at Anfield. Despite their incredible form over the past 15 months, then, there is still some room for improvement under Pep the perfectionist.
Manchester City made 10 changes to their starting lineup for their 2-0 win over Fulham on Thursday - John Stones the only survivor from the 1-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur - with Pep Guardiola making full use of his squad depth. This visit of Southampton is the third of five matches in 13 days for the Citizens, with Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester United to play next week, so rotation will be key.
Guardiola's men have lost just one of their 16 matches in 2018-19, a 2-1 reverse to Lyon here in their opening Champions League game, and they are unbeaten in nine since then. Seven of their last eight matches in all competitions have ended in victory, so it is fair to say that Man City are hitting top form during this gruelling run of fixtures. That said, City were five points clear at this point 12 months ago; they will not find it so easy to pull away this time around.
DID YOU KNOW? Manchester City are the only Premier League side to boast a perfect home record, while only leaders Liverpool (one) have conceded fewer goals on their own patch than the Citizens' two. Even accounting for away matches, City have shipped three goals in 10 matches and come up against a Southampton side with just six goals to their name all season.
A failure to break down opposition teams, with their goalless run spanning five matches, is giving Hughes a real headache. A tally of six goals is 11 fewer than Man City, and should they fail to find a way through today they will set a club record of six in a row without netting. The Saints have most recently played out stalemates with Bournemouth and fellow strugglers Newcastle United.
Not since April 2001 have Southampton gone this long without a goal, last finding the back of the net in their 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on September 17. Southampton, who are two points above the relegation zone with two of the sides below them - Huddersfield Town and Fulham - still to play each other on Monday night, have five matches against the established top six to play over the next two months.
Only Huddersfield (4) have scored fewer goals than Southampton's six this season, with Liverpool loanee Danny Ings responsible for half of those, and only the Terriers, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley managed fewer of the clubs to stay up last season. This is not a new problem for the Saints, then, and a failure to find some attacking inspiration from somewhere could well see them drop down into the second tier.
Southampton have gone six matches without picking up a Premier League victory, stretching back to a 2-0 win away to Crystal Palace on September 1 - their only triumph so far this season. The south coast side have draw four and lost five either side, with two of those draws coming in their last two outings. Adding two points to the board from matches against Bournemouth and Newcastle has kept them afloat; if they intend to climb the table then they simply need to start scoring goals.
Southampton boss Hughes spent 18 months in charge of today's opponents before being sacked in December 2009, with Roberto Mancini brought in as his successor. The Welshman is still bitter about being axed from his highest-profile position to date, though he can surely consider himself fortunate to have been given a long-term deal by the Saints after just about doing enough to keep them afloat last season. Hughes has won three of his 18 games in charge of Southampton.
Pep Guardiola: "I am impressed with the quality Southampton have in the middle and at the front. They have huge talent and are so deep and so physical. It is so complicated to beat them. We must be sharp and move well and be clever. It will be a tough game."
Mark Hughes: "There are always elements of any team that you can look to exploit, no matter how good they are. City get into winning positions very quickly which we can't let happen. They are going to have a lot of possession and we need to be patient and know when to press and when we can't press."
Guardiola says that he has been "impressed" by Southampton's midfield and attacking play, despite the Saints' goalless run standing at five matches ahead of this showdown at the Etihad Stadium. Hughes believes his former club are there to be exploited, meanwhile, though he concedes that conceding early on could well spell the end of his team's chances of nicking anything.
KICKOFF: Southampton, winless in six Premier League games and without a goal in their last five, get us up and running at the Etihad Stadium. There is never a good time to face Manchester City, but this fixture has come at the worst possible time for the Saints.
The Etihad Stadium is far from full for this rearranged fixture, which was originally meant to be played yesterday. This is one of those games that Guardiola will simply want to get through with minimal fuss - an early goal for the home side will see to that.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON (WESLEY HOEDT, OG)
Well that didn't take long, did it?! Manchester City have been on top right from the off and find themselves a goal to the good through a Wesley Hoedt
own goal. Leroy Sane was played in behind down the left and sent a cross across the face of goal, which Hoedt rather comically diverted into the roof of his own net.
Raheem Sterling was waiting to tap in from Leroy Sane's cross, but Wesley Hoedt will have nightmares about that. Eight minutes played at the Etihad Stadium, it is fair to say that Southampton are in for a long afternoon.
YELLOW CARD! James Ward-Prowse, brought back into the starting lineup today, is shown the game's first yellow card for dissent. The English midfielder booted the ball away after Mario Lemina halted the run of David Silva.
MANCHESTER CITY 2-0 SOUTHAMPTON (SERGIO AGUERO)
It is all far too easy for Manchester City, who have themselves a second goal with only 12 minutes on the clock. Bernardo Silva set Raheem Sterling free and the Englishman powered towards the byline, before teeing up Sergio Aguero for the simplest of finishes into an empty net. That is 150 Premier League goals for the Argentinian striker.
You've got to fear for Southampton at this stage - Man City could easily score six or seven this afternoon. The Citizens are getting in behind regularly and are finishing off their chances, which has not always been the case this season.
Replays for Man City's opening goal show that Raheem Sterling was marginally offside, and the Englishman was involved in play as Wesley Hoedt put the ball into his own net under pressure. That early opener was added to by Sergio Aguero.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 3-0 SOUTHAMPTON (DAVID SILVA)
Less than a quarter of the match played and Southampton find themselves three goals down - I did say it could get embarrassing. Raheem Sterling, denied by a good Alex McCarthy save a minute or so ago, chips a ball into the middle and David Silva hammered it home after the Saints failed to clear their lines.
Man City really are magical to watch when they play like this. Three goals up with 22 minutes now on the clock, the Citizens will fancy adding a few more goals to their already impressive goal difference.
Mario Lemina sends a snapshot wide of target as Southampton look for a route back into the game. Sergio Aguero and David Silva added to Wesley Hoedt's own goal to put the Citizens three goals to the good.
City have taken their foot off the gas since going three goals ahead. Southampton have edged possession over the last few minutes but, a wayward Mario Lemina shot aside, they have failed to really do anything with the ball.
Managers are always reluctant to make early changes - it is effectively their way of admitting that their initial team selection was wrong - but Hughes must surely be tempted to change things slightly before the interval.
Danny Ings is unable to get on the end of Cedric Soares's delivery into the middle. The visitors are being allowed to see more of the ball by City, who are already home and dry with more than an hour of the match left to play.
PENALTY! Ederson races well off his line and wipes out Danny Ings, rather than getting any of the ball, and Southampton have a penalty and a potential route back into the game. It was a brilliant pass around the back from Nathan Redmond.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 3-1 SOUTHAMPTON (DANNY INGS, PEN)
Manchester City's run of clean sheets comes to an end, meaning that there will be no record for Ederson. Danny Ings sends the Brazilian goalkeeper the wrong way, rolling the ball to Ederson's left. Not quite game on, but City cannot relax just yet.
Nathan Redmond played a brilliant pass around the back in the build-up to the penalty, and it was a good run from Danny Ings to meet it. The Citizens have not really done anything since scoring their third goal, which is understandable.
Half time is now less than 10 minutes away, and all of a sudden Southampton are looking a lot more confident than they did in the opening half an hour. You always feel that City can easily go back through the gears if needed, though.
SAVE! David Silva's curled shot on target is comfortably dealt with by Alex McCarthy. Before that, Southampton could not get a foot on the ball as City knocked the ball around in the box. Aguero has been cautioned for booting the ball away.
Southampton's defending has been pretty atrocious in this first half - Sunday league stuff. Hughes will be grateful that his side are only two goals behind as we approach the midway stage at the Etihad Stadium.
Raheem Sterling is barged off the ball by Mario Lemina when charging through on goal, but referee Lee Mason told the attacker to get back to his feet. Replays show that it was not a penalty, despite Sterling's complaints.
Man City are very much going through the motions, which has been the case pretty much from the moment David Silva netted his side's third goal of the afternoon 18 minutes into the match. Half time is now just a couple of minutes away.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 4-1 SOUTHAMPTON (RAHEEM STERLING)
Manchester City restore their three-goal advantage in the final seconds of the first half through a simple Raheem Sterling finish. Sergio Aguero did well to keep the ball in play, before looking up and spotting an unmarked Sterling. The Englishman got his initial shot all wrong, but he had a second bite of the cherry and made no mistake from six yards.
HALF TIME: MANCHESTER CITY 4-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Lee Mason brings the first half to a close, with Manchester City 4-1 ahead following another dominant showing. Southampton were three down inside 18 minutes and, after Danny Ings pulled one back from the spot, Raheem Sterling added a fourth in the final seconds of the first period.
Southampton headed into the match winless in six league matches and without a goal in five of them, and what was always going to be a difficult task was made even more tougher when conceding six minutes in. Leroy Sane, returning to the side in place of Riyad Mahrez in City's only change from the 1-0 win
at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, fired in a low cross which Wesley Hoedt could only divert into the roof of his own net.
One goal became two six minutes later as the division's highest scorers went through the gears, with Sergio Aguero tapping in at the back post for his landmark 150th Premier League goal following some good work from Raheem Sterling. Sterling was then denied by a good Alex McCarthy stop, but the Englishman was again involved a couple of minutes later as his chipped delivery was smashed into the back of the net by David Silva for City's third of the match.
Southampton, who had kept back-to-back clean sheets prior to today, were given a route back into the match half an hour in as Ederson raced off his line and wiped out Danny Ings, leaving referee Lee Mason with no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Ings stepped up and rolled the ball to Ederson's left - the first penalty that the Brazilian has conceded in the English top flight, having saved the last two, ending his hopes of keeping a club-record seventh clean sheet in a row.
City restored their three-goal advantage before the interval, however, thanks to Sterling's simple finish past McCarthy after Aguero kept the ball in play and squared the ball to his teammate, though the Englishman required a couple of bites of the cherry after miscuing his initial shot.
MANCHESTER CITY SUBS: Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Delph, Mahrez, Jesus, Foden
SOUTHAMPTON SUBS: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Austin, Elyounoussi, Armstrong, Obafemi
KICKOFF: Neither managed has made any changes at the interval, so it is as you were in that regard. It is a case of damage limitation for Southampton now, whereas Manchester City will be keen to strengthen their goal difference.
SAVE! Raheem Sterling, who has a goal and an assist to his name today, wriggles his way free in the Southampton box but cannot get a shot on target at the end of it. Up the other end, James Ward-Prowse's shot is parried by Ederson.
That was a good attacking move from Southampton, and Danny Ings so nearly got on the end of the loose ball after Ederson uncharacteristically parried the ball. If the Saints bag a second goal we may have a game on our hands.
Southampton have been the better side in the opening seven minutes of the second half. The home fans are urging their side on, as they have not really managed to get out of first gear since the restart - not that it matters all that much.
Man City have had 70% of the ball in the opening 54 minutes of the match. Raheem Sterling, who has had a very good game out wide, is once again played in behind. The Englishman could not find a teammate after rounding Alex McCarthy.
SAVE! Brilliant save from Ederson to deny Southampton a second goal of the afternoon. A corner from the left was headed downwards by Danny Ings at the front post, and it would have crossed the line if not for Ederson's quick reactions.
Guardiola may be tempted to make a couple of changes as we enter the final half an hour, with Phil Foden - impressive against Fulham in midweek - among his back-up options. Riyad Mahrez is also among the Citizens' subs today.
Manchester City lead Southampton 4-1 with an hour played at the Etihad Stadium. All five goals came in the first half, including a well-taken finish from David Silva 18 minutes in.
Southampton have had the better of things in the second half, forcing Ederson into a couple of stops. As ever, though, the Citizens look as though they could easily move through the gears if required. They are in cruise control at the moment.
OFF THE POST! This is the Citizens' best moment of the second half. Leroy Sane dropped his shoulder in cutting inside from the right, before bending a shot past Alex McCarthy and back off the post. So unlucky from the German winger.
We are still awaiting the first change of the afternoon, with less than 25 minutes now left to play at the Etihad Stadium. Bernardo Silva had half a chance a few moments ago, but his effort was blocked in front of goal.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 5-1 SOUTHAMPTON (RAHEEM STERLING)
They have been toying with their opponents for the last 10 minutes or so, and now Manchester City have added a fifth goal to their tally. Some nice play culminates in Sergio Aguero teeing up Raheem Sterling to drive the ball through Alex McCarthy from an angle.
MANCHESTER CITY SUB! John Stones is given a breather, having started all three of Man City's matches this week. Club captain Vincent Kompany is the man brought on in his place to partner Aymeric Laporte.
MANCHESTER CITY SUB! Southampton have created a few chances this afternoon, but they have struggled when it comes to the final shot. Here comes Man City's second change - Phil Foden is on for David Silva in the middle.
A good delivery into the box is met by Danny Ings, who cannot keep his headed effort on target. The Saints would take the full-time whistle now, but I'm not sure if Man City are happy to settle with just the five goals - they have more in them.
SOUTHAMPTON SUBS! Mark Hughes finally turns to his bench, bringing on Michael Obafemi and Mohamed Elyounoussi for James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond. Both managers have one more change available to make.
Sergio Aguero slots Leroy Sane through on goal, but the offside flag went up before the German could get a shot away. This is the 12th time that Man City have scored five or more goals under Guardiola in the Premier League.
It has been another positive afternoon for Raheem Sterling, who has two goals and an assist to his name. Fabian Delph has replaced Fernandinho in the Citizens' third and final change.
Man City are continuing to probe away in search for a sixth goal. Stuart Armstrong has been brought on for Danny Ings in the final substitution of the match. Not a great deal else happening on the field at the moment, truth be told.
CHANCE! A big, big chance goes begging for Shane Long. The striker was picked out in the middle and initially did well to bring the ball under control, but he fired his shot wide of the target from six yards out. The Irishman should have been burying that.
Not for the first time this season, City are cruising over the line. This contest has been over ever since David Silva put the champions three goals ahead 18 minutes into the game, and the hosts are now just a few minutes from getting the job done.
Raheem Sterling has just been announced as the sponsors' man of the match - no complaints with that from me. City have been great to watch today, and the England international has just about been the best player on the field.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 6-1 SOUTHAMPTON (LEROY SANE)
To say this was too easy from Manchester City's perspective would be an understatement. Leroy Sane strokes the ball past Alex McCarthy from the edge of the box after being picked out by Raheem Sterling, who can add another assist to his personal tally.
FULL TIME: MANCHESTER CITY 6-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Manchester City cruise to a 6-1 victory over Southampton to move back above Liverpool at the top of the Premier League. The Citizens were three goals to the good inside the opening 18 minutes through a Wesley Hoedt own goal and strikes from Sergio Aguero and David Silva. Raheem Sterling then added a couple of his own, after Danny Ings had pulled one back from the penalty spot, and was later joined on the scoresheet by Leroy Sane.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from the Etihad Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
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