Manchester City-Southampton Preview
Manchester City will not repeat as Premier League champions, but the motivation to again rule the top-flight of English football is apparently already in the works.
Looking to build on a victory over the current league champs, City visit Southampton on Sunday night.
Though manager Pep Guardiola was quick to praise Liverpool's dominant 2019-20 performance that officially resulted in the Merseysiders first top-flight title in 30 years when his City squad lost at Chelsea on June 25, it must have been hard for the Citizens to watch the Reds receive an honor guard at the Etihad on Thursday.
However, when the whistle was blown, second-place City (21-3-8) were the superior team, taking advantage and running roughshod over a Liverpool club that probably was still coming down from the celebratory high of winning their first Premier League crown. Kevin De Bruyne had a goal with an assist and Raheem Sterling recorded his 23rd goal over all competitions to help the Citizens rebound for their first defeat on the "Project Restart."
"Next season started (Thursday)," Sterling said. "We're disappointed at times this season, having lost some games we shouldn't have. So, we had a test the new champions and (a chance) to make a point."
Whilst it's uncertain what City's fate in terms of European participation will look like beyond 2020, the club moves on with business as usual. That push continues this weekend looking to do the double versus Southampton. A Kyle Walker tie-breaking goal in the 86th minute elevated Man City to a 2-1 home victory over the Saints on Nov. 2.
Southampton (12-4-16), 14th in the table, have won two of their three league games since the restart. One of this victories came last weekend, 3-1 at Watford. Danny Ings recorded a brace and James Ward-Prowse added some late insurance as the Saints were able to rebound from a 2-0 loss to Arsenal.
Sitting on 40 points, the Saints should feel good about their position in the table and not having to seriously worry about relegation. Ings, meanwhile, is a big reason for that, with a career-high 18 Premier league goals.
Ings, who has battled injuries during his top-flight career, specifically two seasons with Liverpool from 2015-18, totaled three over his last three games.
"I have a feeling he is over his problems, so he's very fit," manager Ralph Hassenhuttl told Southampton's official website. "We know about his history of injuries, but he worked very hard during the lockdown and you can see his is still super fit, like all the other guys. And, that's the reason why we can push.
"We will all do everything we can to help him score again and again."
Ings, though, has just one goal in five career matches versus Manchester City over all competitions.
Updated July 3, 2020