Saints V Manchester City The Preview
Sunday, 5th Jul 2020 09:42
Saints take on Manchester City at St Mary's in a game that most Saints supporters aren't holding out much hope of a win from, but can we upset the form book ?
Even if Saints didn't have one of the worst home records in all four divisions, even if we had not lost four of our last home games, even if all of those defeats were not down to individual errors, a win against Manchester City would be a tough ask.
After all they are one of the best teams in Europe and since the restart have won 3 out of 4 Premier League games and scored 13 goals in doing so, so there is not a lot of straws to grasp in this preview let along real hope.given it is the best attack in the Premier League versus the 2nd worst defence, hang on there is a glimpse of hope, Bournemouth have now overtaken us after their thrashing at Old Trafford, glory be we are now only the 3rd leakiest defence, there is hope.
Indeed another chink of light might be the fact that although we are at home, it could be more like an away game, we will be the ones pushed onto the back foot for much of the game, unlike against Arsenal we won't have a lot of possession and that will suit us, City will be pushing forward, so we can sit back and play our usual game on the road, only we will be at home.
That means we can keep a deep lying back line and that will mean that we won't keep getting caught on the break by Sunday morning hoofing the ball up field by the keeper.
But all joking aside we have to go in this game looking to keep what we have and making sure that we do not embarrass ourselves, I have often talked of the fact that we are always going to make errors the only thing we don't know is whether we will get away with it or not, we have to see this season out with damage limitation, our two wins have been against two of the worst teams in the division, going forward we are playing mostly sides who are better than them.
But we do have fight in us and that is good, when we went up to the Etihad back in October for a double Cup & League header it was on the back of that Leicester result, but we dug in and in the League were on the verge of an unlikely point before yet another error gifted them a late late winner that perhaps they deserved on possession, but we did not deserve for our fight, our ability to throw games away this season has been obscene.
So there is some hope, but I would not put much money on it, we have to take a step at a time, personally a narrow defeat would be a good result for us today as we could go forward with pride and confidence intact.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has a few injury issues but these should not be too much of an issue, at the back Jannik Vestergaard may miss the game through injury after a decent game up at Watford, but that can be covered with the return of Jack Stephens from suspension.
That is the first decision that Ralph has to make, the second is in midfield, does he keep Will Smallbone in, or does he go for the experience of Stuart Armstrong or even the pace of Moussa Djenepo who returns after perhaps one of the longest red card suspensions in League history, only 3 games but almost four months.
I think that Armstrong may get the nod for his defensive abilities with the other two on the bench.
Up front I think we will see another change, I think Shane Long will drop to the bench and Che Adams will come in, the manager has been talking him up in the media pre game and I think he will go for Adam's pace and youth from the outset in this game.
What we want from Saints is plenty of fight, we also want a lack of errors, but truth is there has not been a game where that has been achieved so i'm not confident on that, but we haave the basis of a good squad, let's get to the end of the season and then build on that.
When we went to City back in October there wasn't a Saints fan who felt we we would come away with anything other than a heavy defeat or for that matter who felt that we would avoid relegation.
But that game marked a line in the sand, it was almost the end of a truly horrific run and we came back stronger, we just need this season to be over and then we can move on.
Photo: Action Images
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