Every week we bring you a key fixture from the Premier League. In Gameweek 13, early season success story Southampton host defending champions Manchester City.
Southampton vs Manchester City
In the early Premier League years, Manchester City and Southampton both enjoyed a kind of cult reputation. With talented mavericks like Matt Le Tissier and Georgi Kinkladze, they became darlings of the highlight reels.
Despite these moments of magic, relegation battles were very much the order of the day for both sides. The same cannot be said in 2014. Southampton, after an early season surge, find themselves in second place. Defending league champions Manchester City meanwhile lie third and, will be hoping they’ve turned a corner following a gutsy Champions League comeback at home to Bayern Munich.
Manchester City 4-1 Southampton
Southampton 1-1 Manchester City
Manchester City- WWLWDW
Southampton’s rise to prominence this season has been well documented and roundly lauded. Ronald Koeman has first and foremost got the defensive parameters correct. Fraser Forster and his backline, superbly marshalled by Jose Fonte, have conceded just six goals domestically this campaign. Key signings Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle have slotted into the side seamlessly, ably replacing those lost to the summer transfer window. However, with two defeats this season to Liverpool and Spurs- it’s reasonable to say that the Saints have faltered against the traditional powers of the league. Facing Manchester City, Arsenal and United over the next three weeks, their season could be defined in how they manage such an unforgiving flurry of fixtures.
City have emerged from a shaky couple of weeks in all competitions, losing successive games and generally falling short of their considerable expectations. While turning in piecemeal performances, their shortcomings have been largely compensated by the imperious form of Sergio Aguero. The singular importance of the Argentine to this City side is stark and Manuel Pellegrini will hope that Yaya Toure and Stefan Jovetic can kick on and alleviate the overreliance on the forward.
Sergio Aguero (£14.9m GW12: 750) vs Graziano Pellè (£11m GW12: 575)
Simply put, if Sergio Aguero was in anyway injured or incapacitated this season, City would be in a very different and likely precarious position. The Argentine has scored half of all his side’s goals and has put in a claim as one of the very best players in the game. Pellè, meanwhile has adapted to the climes of the Premier League with startling ease, bagging a goal every two games and showing a knack for link up play that all but escapes centre forwards these days. Among Premier League forwards these two have the most attempts on goal with 64 and 48 respectively. Although Aguero is clearly the more efficient goalscorer, Pellè has also turned provider for his teammates on three occasions this season- a duty the Argentine appears to have neglected in his free scoring form.
Yaya Toure (£14.4m GW12: 2450) vs Dusan Tadic (£10.1m GW12: 800)
Yaya Toure, so integral to City’s success last season has been a largely diminished force. This time last year, the Ivorian was in the form of his career, with five goals from midfield and assuming chief creative duties for citizens. With just two goals and one assist to his name this time around, the midfielder has looked lax and uninterested at times. Following a fine showing at Swansea in Gameweek 12, City will interpret this as a spark of resurrection. Dusan Tadic, like many of the Saints’ new arrivals, effectively tore out of the blocks in the early stages of this campaign. His creativity and technical abilities have created six goals for teammates, putting him at the forefront of the Premier League’s creative stakes. This form has dropped off somewhat in recent weeks which is not altogether suprising. Toure and Tadic will play pivotal roles in this clash; any space and time afforded to them will invariably deliver the supply line to the frontmen.
In PlayON terms, these two sides possess some of the league’s heavy hitters, the question remains as to whether Koeman and co. will rely on their defensive fortitude to see them through or if they will try to match City on the ball. Given their start to the season, they would be well within their rights to pursue either route. Halting the flow of goals, for either side, will prove an unforgiving task. Expect a few.
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