Think it is fair to say the festive Premier League schedule has not been the “most wonderful time of the year” for Pep Guardiola and his defending champions. With three losses from four games so far in December, another loss to Southampton could be detrimental to their title aspirations. With Liverpool continuing their unbeaten run, City find themselves six points adrift of the league leaders and one point behind Spurs. Getting back to winning ways will be the only focus for Guardiola and his team this weekend. Form Labs bring you their preview and betting tips for the game and if you are after some more value then check out our enhanced odds for the game.
Saints Exposed By West Ham
After consecutive victorious over Arsenal and Huddersfield under Ralph Hasenhuttl, the Saints were brought back down to earth when hosting West Ham as some of their limitations were exposed. ‘
The Alpine Klopp’ has clearly instructed his charges to press high up the field as expected, but while his team have run further in all four games so far, they can’t boast the same kind of squad depth as their opponents here.
Festive Schedule Beginning To Take It’s Toll
A busy festive period will inevitably take its toll, especially on players not used to such demands, and indeed the pressing become disjointed against the Hammers during the second half as tired legs were ruthlessly taken advantage of.
That was particularly the case as West Ham countered for the winner, and with City winning the reverse fixture 6-1 back in November we’d expect a response from Pep Guardiola and his team.
City’s two defeats in the space of five days came out of the blue and no one really expects this to be anything other than a blip rather than some sort of long term decline.
Defensive Issues Need To Be Solved
However, this has been a week where their defensive shortcomings compared with title rivals Liverpool have been much discussed, and they’re now nine games across all competitions without a clean sheet.
In fact, five of seven meetings between Southampton and Man City since 2015/16 have seen both teams find the net, with Man City and both teams to score landing in two of three under Guardiola.
That angle could well prove profitable once more not just because of the change of impetus at St. Mary’s, but also the likely absence of Fernandinho.
The Brazilian enforcer is only just returning from injury and almost certainly won’t be risked with Liverpool just around the corner, and City have conceded just 0.77 goals per game under Guardiola when he starts, compared with 1.36 when absent from the initial line-up.
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