Both of these sides suffered badly in their first games back from the international break, displaying fatigue and appearing short on energy. Of course, Man City were much worse off in their 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool, while Southampton fell short in a 1-0 home loss to the disciplined Stoke City.
Man City are capable of great things, but it has become obvious that they simply cannot maintain defensive consistency when deprived of captain Vincent Kompany or summer signing Nicolás Otamendi. Martín Demichelis has passed his prime at 34 years old, while Eliaquim Mangala is still prone to embarrassing mistakes when not playing beside Kompany or Otamendi.
Liverpool’s advanced midfielders and forward Roberto Firmino managed to harry Man City and repeatedly force them into mistakes in their own half. Although City held 58% possession they appeared ineffective in creating opportunities as a team. Sergio Agüero did manage to score a fine individual goal before halftime, but City could not get back into the game.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said he did not recognise his team last Saturday. The Saints held onto 58% possession, yet only had one attempt on target from 16 total shots. Southampton were extremely wasteful and Stoke only needed one goal to win. Koeman chose to start Sadio Mané from the bench, a tactic that did not pay off.
Last season, Southampton were a feel-good story for all of the teams who have sold stars and then suffered. Koeman, however, was able to spur Southampton to many incredible performances en route to a seventh-place finish. Crucial to their success was their achievement of having the second-best defence in the league. That has since changed, though, with Southampton conceding 14 goals in 13 games.
Tip one: Man City @ 1.53 with ladbrokes
Tip two: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.65 with ladbrokes
Man City’s abysmal performance against Liverpool can be attributed to the international break and to the exclusion of Otamendi. While Kompany is likely to miss out with a calf injury, Otamendi’s return can strengthen the defence. Then you have the presence of Agüero, who already looked sharp in his first game back. City can turn around their disappointment with a win here.