Southampton-Manchester City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Manchester City's Premier League title chances could well be at stake as they welcome Southampton to the Etihad on Saturday.

City (21-4-5) were held to a 1-1 draw by Arsenal last time out, leaving them four points off the top of the table with eight games remaining. Manuel Pellegrini's side do have two games in hand over all of the other title rivals, but with a clash against league leaders Liverpool up next in the run-in, the City boss does not believe there are any favourites at this stage.

"My way of thinking is that the four teams have the same option to win the title," said Pellegrini. "It is very close, all the other teams have a few points more, six games more, we have eight games more, we have to win those six points.

"We don't have six points more, we have two games postponed, it is not the same thing so I think all four teams have the same chances."

Saturday's visitors (13-9-10) are in good form, with three wins from their last four games and 11 goals scored in that run, and Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino is confident of keeping that run going at the weekend.

"We always have the belief that we are going to win," said Pochettino. "We have the belief in every single game that we are going to win.

"We know we are going to be facing a very tough side in Manchester City, a side that is definitely a candidate to win in the Premier League and are one of the best teams in England and Europe. Despite that we are still going with the belief that we are going to play our game and we are going to get something out of that game."

Pochettino's faith may be tested at a ground where City have been dominant. They have dropped points just once in 14 games at the Etihad this season, scoring a joint league-high 48 home goals and conceding a joint league-low nine. They have found the net in 63 of their last 64 league matches on their own patch and have back-to-back home clean sheets going into Saturday's clash.

City have injury doubts over Sergio Aguero (hamstring), Matija Nastasic (knee) and Micah Richards (knee), while Southampton are expected to be without Nathaniel Clyne (groin), Victor Wanyama (calf), Kelvin Davis (back) and Maya Yoshida (knee).

The Saints came from behind to hold City to a 1-1 draw when these teams met at St Mary's in December. Aguero opened the scoring before the now-departed Pablo Osvaldo equalised in a game that saw the hosts outshoot Pellegrini's side 15-12. Southampton have now taken four points off City in the last two meetings, and pushed City close at the Etihad last season, leading 2-1 until late goals by Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri.

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