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Southampton v City: Talking Points

WORKING HARD: Aguero was up against one of the strongest defences in the Premier League

WORKING HARD: Aguero was up against one of the strongest defences in the Premier League

Manchester City travel to Southampton this weekend in a crucial Premier League game - and Club journalist Rob Pollard has taken a closer look at things ahead of kick off.

Lethal Aguero

This is Sergio Aguero’s sixth season at City and in five of them he’s scored 28 goals or more. It’s a sensational record that perhaps deserves more praise then it receives.

His goal against Hull last weekend that finished off a remarkable team goal involving all 11 players was his 28th of the campaign and there’s still plenty of time left for him to add to his tally.

His best haul for City came in 2014/15 when he hit 32. Surely he can top that this season given the form he’s in. He’s bagged 10 in his last 10 and appears to be doing more than he’s ever done outside the box.

He’s a remarkable player and the Southampton defence need to be at their best to keep him quiet.

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Attacking brilliance

It isn’t just Aguero who’s in form for City – Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and David Silva are all excelling right now for Pep Guardiola’s attacking side.

Sane, nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award on Thursday, is enjoying a fine debut campaign in English football and has scored eight in his last 17 games.

The 21-year-old has everything needed to become a world-class winger: pace, technique, goalscoring quality and the ability to beat defenders.

Sterling’s stats tell you everything you need to know about the season he’s having. Nine goals and 22 assists already suggests he is increasingly becoming a player with match-winner quality. 

And what’s left to say about Silva? The man who clocked up his 300th appearance for City in last weekend’s win over Hull has been imperious this season, conducting City’s play from the middle of the pitch with the kind of effortless brilliance few players in world football can manage.

At their best, few sides in Europe can match City going forward.

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Navas to continue at right-back?

Jesus Navas has played at right-back for the last three games – an unfamiliar role for the man who has spent his career as a touchline-hugging winger.

But he has been impressive, drawing widespread praise for the way he has adapted. His first two games there saw him go up against Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard, two of the finest wide players in the Premier League, and Navas more than held his own.

His defensive qualities have always been clear and he still manages to get forward from a full-back position.

Will he make it four in a row against Southampton?

Southampton pose a threat

Claude Puel’s Southampton side have impressed this season. They reached the League Cup final, beating Liverpool in the semi-final and narrowly losing to Manchester United in the final at Wembley, and currently sit ninth in the table.

They like to play open football, with full-backs who get forward at every occasion and pace in the final third.

In Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond, they have a vibrant side, and Manolo Gabbiadini provides a goalscoring edge.

This is perhaps City’s toughest remaining league fixture.

Top-four race couldn’t be tighter

City’s recent defeat at Stamford Bridge to champions-elect Chelsea saw Guardiola admit defeat in the race for the title – but they remain locked in a battle to finish inside the Champions League places.

And it could hardly be tighter. City are in fourth, two points behind third-placed Liverpool with a game in hand but have Manchester United hot on their heels in fifth.

The Old Trafford side are four points adrift City with a game in hand, with Arsenal and Everton a further three behind.

It looks like five sides fighting for two places and it is likely to go down to the wire. 

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Manchester City will be without Bacary Sagna for the trip to Southampton, but skipper Vincent Kompany is pushing for a starting spot.

Sagna is making good progress after an adductor injury but is not ready yet, while Kompany is fully fit again after suffering a small reaction following his impressive 90 minutes against Chelsea last Wednesday.