Newly promoted Southampton face possibly their toughest match of the season when they go to the Etihad on Sunday afternoon. Lee Dixon explains why he expects Manchester City to start with a comfortable win...
Running out at home as champions for the first match of a new campaign is a fantastic feeling. There's a buzz around the stadium and the wind is well and truly in your sails. You've got a new kit on and new team-mates to link up with. On top of all that, the sun is often shining.
You can't rest of your laurels though, there can be no basking in former glories because football moves fast and the importance of a good start in the Premier League should never be underestimated. Having won title in the most dramatic circumstances last season, Manchester City must now aim to dominate and cement their place at the top of English football.
It's been an unexpectedly quiet summer at Eastlands. I thought they would bring in players and I think Roberto Mancini did too. Inquiries were made about Daniel Agger, a player I rate, but he isn't making the move and I do think City need a centre-back.
Southampton also have a glow about them. They were very unlucky not to win the Championship but they return to the top flight on the back of consecutive promotions. Manager Nigel Adkins' will need all his nous and resilience if Saints are to take anything from this one and it will be interesting to see how talented youngsters Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne fare against top opposition. Over all, I reckon they can stay up this season.
Not that I think they can take anything from this one. In one sense, it's bad luck, beginning your return to the Premier League with a trip to the champions, but at least they're getting it out of the way early and if Saints could take a point from this it would be a massive boost.
City will be too good. They looked sharp in the Community Shield, we all know that in Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko they have the most devastating attackers in the Premier League, but Mancini's new 3-4-1-2 formation is intriguing. It liberates the full-backs and could allow Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards new attacking impetus.
Everybody knows that City came within minutes of losing to QPR on the last day of the 2011/12 season but the fact remains they only dropped two points at Eastland in the entire campaign. They won't yield any against Saints and I'll be backing them to be up at the break and at full-time.
City to win to nil
Opta tell me that City scored the highest percentage of second-half goals of in the Premier League in 2011/12 so I think they could be a goal up at half-time before adding one or two in the second-half. They were the division's top scorers and Southampton hit the most goals in the Championship. Despite my feeling that City aren't the finished article at the back, I expect the champions to kick off with a win to nil.
Back Manchester City/Manchester City @ 1.674/6
Back Manchester City to win to nil @ 1.68/13