League leaders Manchester City welcome Southampton to the Etihad Stadium and will host a minute’s silence for the late Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
After two wins in a matter of days, a gritty 1-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley and a comfortable 2-0 victory over Fulham in the Carabao Cup on Thursday night, City haven’t conceded for over 10 hours of football.
There shouldn’t, then, be any changes to the defensive line-up from Monday’s win in North London, but Pep Guardiola is the only manager who is yet to field an unchanged side in the Premier League this season.
Ex-Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal at the national stadium so is expected to keep his place, but City lacked a clinical nature against Spurs and so Leroy Sané may well take Raheem Sterling’s place.
Sergio Agüero is without a goal in three matches in all competitions for only the fourth time in his City career, so perhaps his partnership with Gabriel Jesus will be Guardiola’s preferred option against a Saints defence that kept a first clean sheet of the season against Newcastle United last week.
Strikers Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini both missed good chances at St. James’ Park last time out and summer signing Danny Ings has failed to score in his last three games. Southampton shouldn’t cause the Cityzens any problems, then, but football is not that simple.
With joint leaders Liverpool travelling to Arsenal on Saturday teatime, the likelihood is that City’s superior goal difference will see them remain top with a win. As ever, the first goal is crucial and if City can strike early, then their stay at the top of the table will surely continue.
KEY BATTLE – David Silva vs Mario Lemina
The diminutive Spaniard has been City’s stand out player so far in 2018/19 and I thoroughly expect him to unlock the opposition defence once more. Not only his vision, but his execution, leaves defenders in his wake and if he is on form, then Lemina will have one hell of a task to stop him.
The Gabon international, however, has been assigned similar tasks in the past and succeeded. Quelling Juan Mata’s creativity in the famous 1-0 win at Old Trafford two years ago, the ex-Juventus man has a key role to play on Sunday. His short temper and indiscipline, however, is something that City will surely look to exploit and, if that happens, he could well see red at the Etihad.
PREDICTED SCORE: 3-0
Predicted Line-Up: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, D. Silva, B. Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling.