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Saturday December 7, 2013 MYT 2:20:00 AM
Saturday December 7, 2013 MYT 3:19:45 AM
by shaun orange
Thumbs up. Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini can take heart that his team are beginning to find some form away from the Etihad. - EPA
MANCHESTER City moved into third spot in the English Premier League standings after their 3-2 midweek win at West Brom. Today, they remain on the road as they visit Southampton.
And the Citizens will be keen on another victory so as to crank up the pressure on the top two – Arsenal and Chelsea – and further bolster their own claim for the title.
Southampton, however, should pose a tougher test than West Brom but Manuel Pellegrini and his squad know all too well that if they are to win a second Premiership crown in three years, it is games like this that they’ll have to put away.
It was also interesting to note that Pellegrini chose this week to publicly declare their intentions of being at the top of the tree come New Year’s Day or at least three points in the arrears.
To some – the uninitiated – this might come across as being rather cocky. On the contrary, it is just realistic goals set by an ambitious manager of an ambitious team.
Southampton, who made a dream start to their campaign before slipping to eighth, have a reasonable chance of making the top-six in May and, like their visitors, know that to achieve those ideals they have to grab all the points they can at home.
The Saints have a reputable record at St Mary’s – having lost just once so far this season – and it is this fortitude that Pellegrini will be aware of as his side bid to claim just their third victory on their travels.
However, the signals sounded at West Brom clearly showed that City have dispelled the fears of failing away from home. They did concede two late goals but, as Pellegrini explained, they took their foot off the gas after taking a 3-0 lead and paid for their lapse in concentration. But, at least, they were still able to leave with all three pionts in the bag.
Sergio Aguero will lead the attack again although he was taken off at West Brom with the team 2-0 up. Pellegrini explained that it was done to give him more rest.
But even if Aguero does not get on the score-sheet, Southampton should know that any one of these players – Negredo, Nasri, Dzeko, who is finding his way back into the side, Yaya Toure and Navas – can all hit the net with some aplomb.
The return to the starting line-up of skipper and Belgian international defender Vincent Kompany in midweek has also given the Citizens a huge lift.
The defence has been City’s sore point this season and the sooner they find a cure for it, the sooner their travelling sickness will disappear for good.
My guess is that Southampton might score, but City, with Aguero at the forefront, will score more.
So, watch out Arsenal, and watch out Chelsea.
Shaun Orange thinks City will leave St Mary’s with a narrow 2-1 win today that would keep the visitors where they want to be.
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