Ralph Hasenhuttl says Southampton’s victory over Manchester City last season was important in showing them that they had the quality to threaten big teams. Still, he would not expect his side to be where they currently are:
I’d have laughed I think. To keep it looking like this we must make a good game today, because it’s a tough challenge for us. It was one part of the foundation, one part of the basement that we have built up over the lockdown. Courage. A different game with fans, and advantage for the home team. It definitely creates atmosphere, even if there are only a few thousand.
Pep Guardiola has a pre-match chat. Gabriel Jesus is, he says, out with concussion (I thought he said Jesus was suffering from “concussion in the teeth”, but surely I misheard). He’s then asked if his side are close to getting back to their best:
No. We’re not in a position to be at our best. There are many circumstances for one team. We are not playing well. We have created in most games more chances than the opponents but we’re not winning games and when you don’t win games you lose confidence.
There has been a last-minute postponement at Rotherham, where the match against Derby has been abandoned after a member of the Rotherham squad tested positive for Covid-19, and with “further players within the first team bubble showing symptoms of the virus at present”.
There are a lot of very excited statisticians right now.
Crystal Palace’s punishment is over, and Liverpool have beaten them 7-0. Palace now have the worst goal difference outside the bottom four.
Southampton v Manchester City teams!
All the teams from all the 3pm kick-offs have been submitted, and these will be the line-ups at St Mary’s:
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Walcott, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Djenepo, Ings, Adams. Subs: Stephens, Long, Redmond, Armstrong, Salisu, Tella, Diallo, N’Lundulu, Forster.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Joao Cancelo, Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Torres. Subs: Ake, Aguero, Zinchenko, Mendy, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Carson, Foden, Nmecha.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Liverpool still have 20 minutes to add to their goal tally at Crystal Palace. They currently lead 5-0, and Rob Smyth is your man for that one:
Saturday afternoon brings a glut of games, albeit with just one 3pm kick-off in the Premier League and the leaders of both the top flight and the Championship playing at lunchtime. In the Championship Norwich’s closest challengers, Bournemouth and Watford, are both playing away from home, at Luton and Huddersfield respectively, while fourth-placed Swansea host Barnsley and erstwhile leaders Reading travel to Brentford in a ding-dong 5th v 6th battle. Towards the bottom, Derby will haul themselves out of the bottom three if they outperform Nottingham Forest (who visit Millwall) or by winning at Rotherham, those three sides divided pre-match only by goal difference.
In League One, with several matches called off because of Covid cases Lincoln City (at Northampton, who are one point from the bottom four) and Doncaster (at bottom-of-the-table Burton Albion) are the only top-six sides in action. League Two sees second-placed Carlisle visit fourth-placed Forest Green in the game of the day while slightly further down the table two of the sides flirting with the play-off places – seventh-placed Colchester and Morecambe in eighth – play at the Colchester Community Stadium.
As for our one Premier League game, here are our predicted line-ups for Southampton v Manchester City:
Manchester City and Southampton both picked up disappointing draws in midweek, although Pep Guardiola should be the more concerned considering his side continue to struggle to score despite having ridiculously talented players in attack. Much may rely on whether Sergio Agüero returns. The talisman has the power to dispel City’s funk but if he continues his absence Ralph Hasenhüttl has a full-strength squad that has lost only once in their past 11. Saints may have a great chance of repeating last season’s upset.
And here are today’s fixtures in the English Football League and Scottish Premiership (all kick-off times 3pm GMT unless stated):
Crystal Palace v. Liverpool (12.30)
Everton v. Arsenal (5.30)
Newcastle v. Fulham (8.00)
Southampton v. Man City
Birmingham v. Middlesbrough
Brentford v. Reading
Huddersfield v. Watford
Luton v. Bournemouth
Millwall v. Nottm Forest
Norwich v. Cardiff (12.30)
Rotherham v. Derby
Sheff Wed v. Coventry
Stoke v. Blackburn
Swansea v. Barnsley
Wycombe v. QPR
Accrington Stanley v. Blackpool
Burton Albion v. Doncaster
Fleetwood Town v. Wigan
Northampton v. Lincoln City
Plymouth v. Milton Keynes Dons
Rochdale v. Gillingham (1.00)
Swindon v. Charlton
Wimbledon v. Crewe
Barrow v. Cheltenham
Bolton v. Tranmere
Bradford v. Cambridge Utd
Colchester v. Morecambe
Forest Green v. Carlisle
Grimsby v. Scunthorpe
Harrogate Town v. Salford City
Leyton Orient v. Crawley Town
Mansfield v. Southend
Newport County v. Oldham
Walsall v. Port Vale
Hibernian v. Dundee Utd
Rangers v. Motherwell
Ross County v. Hamilton
St Mirren v. St Johnstone