Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday August 17 2012
The Etihad Stadium
Manchester City's title defence starts here with The Blues welcoming Championship Runners Up Southampton to a packed Etihad Stadium...
' I can't wait to go there, I'm really looking forward to it - the whole football club is, especially the players...a few years ago we were at the bottom of League One and could only dream of being there but now we're there on merit. We've earned the right to be there and we're going to go there and give it everything we've got. It's a great game for us...now we're playing teams in the Premier League and what a great way to start the campaign.'
'I was serious last week when I said Manchester United were the favourites. They have been playing for the title every year for 20 years. We cannot change this situation in one year. Any team that bought Van Persie would be better. I felt he was going to stay at Arsenal or sign for another team, but not us. We already have four strikers. It was impossible for us to sign another one.'
Micah Richards (Ankle - 10 weeks)
Gareth Barry (Hernia Operation)
Joe Hart (Back- Fitness Test Saturday)
Mario Balotelli (Conjunctivitis)
City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, K Touré, Lescott, Savic, Clichy, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Johnson, Nasri, Y Touré, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero, Tévez, Balotelli, Rodwell.
The man to keep an eye on for a second week running. Training like a man possessed and scoring rocket blasters again, 'El Apache' or 'The Nameless One' looks fitter and stronger than at any time during his six years in England. If Saints give him any space this weekend, it would be at a high risk.
Jack Cork (ankle)
Saints Squad Latest to follow...
Rescued from the Glasgow Rangers rubble by Saints on a Free, the Northern Ireland skipper has the Premier league experience with Villa and Fulham that will be key to Saints survival in the top flight. The ex Rangers skipper will have an influential role to play in the opening weeks of the season.
Head To Head:
League 25 Saints Wins, 21 Draws, 22 City Wins
League Cup 3 Saints Wins, 2 Draws
FA Cup 1 Saints Win, 2 City Wins
Total: 29 Saints Wins, 23 Draws, 24 City Wins
This match brings together last season's Premiership and Championship top scorers: City 93, Saints 85.
Now for further proof that City played the finest football in the top flight last season. No other team could match City for completed passes last season. 20,860. That's as many as there were unsold season tickets at the swamp before Van Persie signed as Taggart's last throw of the dice. I digress. The Champions also hit more shots on target in the last campaign than anybody else. A cool 250.
Here's a daunting stat for Saints fans: Only Blackpool of newly promoted sides have won their opening Premier League game across the last three seasons.
City are unbeaten at home since December 2010.
Last Time Around:
Su 28Jan 2007 Man City 3 - 1 Southampton FA Cup
Sa 01Jan 2005 Man City 2 - 1 Southampton Premiership
Sa 02Oct 2004 Southampton 0 - 0 Man City
City 1-6, Saints 10-1, Draw 9-2.
TV Coverage: Sky Sports 1, BBC Match of The Day
Howard Webb of Yorkshire 2011-2012 Record Across All Competitions: 51 Games, 167 Yellows, 5 Reds Last Season: Man City 2 - 0 Everton, Man City 5 - 1 Norwich, Man City 3 - 2 Tottenham, Stoke 1 - 1 Man City, Newcastle 0 - 2 Man City
Johnny On The Spot: In recent seasons City have crossed Nigel Adkins' path in cup competitions with Scunthorpe and run out comfortable winners on each occasion. Despite the increase in resources now at his disposal he'll also be facing a full strength City side and I expect his losing sequence to continue. English football would be stunned were The Saints to get a result this weekend, even moreso as The Champions are opening their title defence riding a juggernaut of a feelgood factor. Judging by City's statement of intent when winning the Community Shield last weekend, I predict that The Blues will dish out a pasting. It could well be that The Saints' successive promotions have propelled them into the top flight too soon. CITY 4 Southampton 0
Sa 25 Aug 15h00 Liverpool, Anfield, PL
Th 30 Aug Champions League Draw
Sa 01 Sep 17h30 QPR, The Etihad, PL
Sa 15 Sep 15h00 Stoke, The Britannia Stadium, PL
Su 23 Sep 16h00 Arsenal, The Etihad, PL
Sa 29 Sep 15h00 Fulham, Craven Cottage, PL
Date:Friday August 17 2012
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