An enormous test of Southampton’s ability to maintain its surprising top-four position begins today as the Saints host the defending champions Manchester City.
The Sky Blues ride into St. Mary’s for what could be a match that shapes the top of the table for the rest of the season, at 8:30am ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
If there’s been one knock on Southampton’s stellar season thus far, it’s that they have faced a relatively easy fixture list up to this point, having only played members of last year’s top seven twice thus far, losing to both Liverpool and Spurs.
But that is all about to change, as the club hunkers down for games against City, Arsenal, and Manchester United in quick succession, while fixtures against Everton, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal bookend the turn to the new year.
Just one change for Southampton as they bring back Steven Davis, who missed last week’s match with Aston Villa with an injury he sustained on international duty.
For Manchester City, they can jump Southampton into second place with a win, and gain valuable ground in the battle to close the gap with Chelsea. The Citizens will start Sergio Aguero up front, who will make his 100th Premier League start for the club. Eliquiem Mangala comes back into the City defense, with Martin Demichelis brought to the bench.
Frank Lampard also sits again, after riding the pine in the midweek Champions League matchup with Bayern Munich, while playmakers Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri, and Steven Jovetic all play.
Edin Dzeko, David Silva, and Aleksandar Kolarov all remain out injured.
Southampton: Forster; Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand; Schneiderlin, Wanyama, S Davis; Tadic, Pelle, Mane.
Bench: K. Davis, Yoshida, Gardos, Long, Mayuka, Reed, Targett.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Clichy; Fernandinho, Toure, Navas, Jovetic, Nasri; Aguero.
Bench: Caballero, Pozo, Milner, Lampard, Fernando, Sagna, Demichelis.