Southampton v Manchester City: Champions to have fun on their way to the 100 club

Southampton manager Mark Hughes
Mission Accomplished - Mark Hughes has surely saved Southampton
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Barring a total disaster, Southampton are safe from the drop, and Kevin Hatchard thinks they'll play out an entertaining game against the record-breaking champions...

"Six of Manchester City's last seven Premier League games have featured four goals or more."

Back Over 3.5 Goals at [2.3]

Southampton v Manchester City
Sunday May 13, 15:00

Saints safe, but now the real work begins for Hughes

It must have been a mixed week for Mark Hughes. The sinking Stoke vessel that he was asked to disembark from in January finally went under, and having clambered aboard the Good Ship Southampton, he has managed to avoid the iceberg at the last possible moment. Hughes' new team won 1-0 at fellow strugglers Swansea in midweek, and now only a set of truly extraordinary circumstances would see the south Wales side survive at Saints' expense.

Hughes officially still doesn't have a relegation on his CV (QPR fans and Stoke supporters will dispute that), and he must now look to solve some serious issues at Southampton if he is to avoid similar stresses and strains next season. Firstly, he must find a way to take more control over transfer policy, with vice-chairman Les Reed largely responsible for some disastrous moves in the market. Reed has also blundered when it comes to managers - he bowed to pressure from fans and players as he axed Claude Puel (who had delivered a top-eight finish and a League Cup final), and he replaced him with Mauricio Pellegrino, who never seemed truly comfortable in the job.

As for the end of this campaign, Saints have actually built up a bit of momentum. They have taken seven points from their last three matches, and they played pretty well against both Chelsea and Arsenal, before slipping to 3-2 defeats against both opponents. The club's home form has been dreadful this season, and they have won just two of their last 12 Premier League matches at St Mary's.

Japanese defender Maya Yoshida is likely to return from suspension, with young Polish player Jan Bednarek injured. Midfielders Mario Lemina and Steven Davis are both carrying knocks.

Guardiola's peerless champs aim for a century

No team in English top-flight history has ever managed a three-figure tally of points over a season, but that milestone is within Manchester City's grasp. They have already broken Chelsea's Premier League points record by racking up 97 with a 3-1 win over Brighton, and another win against south coast opposition this weekend would bring up the magic 100. Opta tell us that City can also pick up a record 32nd top-flight win of the season, and in doing so break records for the most away wins and the most away points.

Manager Pep Guardiola has set the bar incredibly high this term, but after failures in the Champions League and FA Cup, there remains room for improvement. Having schooled his players in his irresistible style of play, it seems likely that City will be at the summit for some time to come, and it will be fascinating to see who will challenge them next term.

David Silva spent some of this week in his native Spain for family reasons, so his participation is in doubt, while striker Sergio Aguero remains sidelined. Benjamin Mendy is pushing hard for a start after recovering from a long-term injury.

City worthy favourites, but Saints can run them close

You can understand why the champions are trading at [1.43] for the win, but there's an argument to say they might not sweep the hosts aside. Saints have only lost by more than one goal at home on three occasions this term. They held Arsenal and Spurs, and were edged out by the odd goal at home to Manchester United and Chelsea.

I'd often look to boost City's odds by using the Asian Handicap, but on this occasion I'll look elsewhere.

Goals the order of the day as Saints can relax

Southampton's goal difference is -18, compared to Swansea's -27, and Saints have scored more goals. They may try to keep things tight early on to avoid a disaster, but my feeling is that this game will open up as City push to break more records.

Six of City's last seven Premier League games have featured four goals or more, and so seeing Over 3.5 Goals trading at a healthy [2.3] has made my eyes light up.

Sane can strike again on the road

I successfully tipped Leroy Sane to find the net at West Ham a few weeks ago, and I'm surprised to see him trading at [2.74] to find the net again. The German speedster is a real threat on the counter-attack away from home, and his last four goals in all competitions have been away from the Etihad. With Saints' full-backs Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand often keen to push on, the former Schalke player can exploit space in behind them.

Keep an eye on the team news, but if Sane starts, back him to score.

Kevin Hatchard 2017-18 English Football P/L

Points Staked: 57

Points Returned: 86.31

P/L: +29.31 points

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