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Talking Points: Let's go marching in!

RAZ-AMATAZ: Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring our fourth goal on the stroke of half-time

RAZ-AMATAZ: Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring our fourth goal on the stroke of half-time

Analysing the key topics ahead of Sunday’s 2018 finale at St Mary’s…

1 Final hurrah

After our recent run of results, it’s difficult to remember just how remarkable this year has been.

This year has produced incredible achievements, unforgettable memories and ultimately, a season we’ll never forget.

It would be a shame to end such a momentous 12 months on a low note and of course, it’s crucial we bounce back from our third league defeat in four to keep ourselves in with a chance to retain our Premier League title.

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WATCH: Pep Guardiola | 'I'll prove myself'

GALLERY: Trio train ahead of Saints showdown

A victory at Southampton would provide the perfect pick-me-up, particularly with next week’s visit of Liverpool looming, as well as a fittingly positive end to an incredible year.

2 Injury boost?

It is no coincidence that City’s recent dip in form has concurred with December’s injury woes but hopefully, those absentees are closing in on full returns.

Pep Guardiola revealed he would make a decision on Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Gabriel Jesus today, after the trio trained on Saturday afternoon, while David Silva made a gradual entrance in Wednesday’s defeat to Leicester, coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes.

Should the quartet be declared fit for contention, the Blues would be handed a timely boost – and a potentially pivotal one, at that.

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Interviews

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Guardiola: I'll prove myself

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3 Aguero 250?

City’s all-time top goalscorer Sergio Aguero is two goals short of another remarkable accomplishment – 250 career goals.

The Argentine ace is enduring an unusual wait for this milestone, having last found the net in the 2-2 draw away at Lyon.

Bizarrely, he has not scored in the Premier League away from home on English soil for more than 13 months (although he has of course bagged in other competitions) so to achieve his ‘Sestercentennial’ feat on the final day of the year would deliver a welcome tonic at the perfect time.

Southampton also perhaps provide the ideal opponents for Kun, with the forward having claimed four goals and four assists in eight Premier League meetings with the Saints, including one in the last encounter – a storming 6-1 triumph at the Etihad Stadium. Same again, please?

Worth noting too that Raheem Sterling also has an impressive record against the south coast outfit – directly involved in ten goals in his last ten league appearances (six goals and four assists).

OPENING TIME: Wesley Hoedt deflects Leroy Sane's shot into the Southampton goal

Highlights

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City 6-1 Southampton: Brief highlights

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4 Watertight

After registering a run of six successive league shut-outs, City’s defence has been uncharacteristically leaky in recent games, with the Blues astonishingly having failed to keep a clean sheet in our last nine matches in all competitions.

Oddly, December’s three league defeats have heralded opposition goals from their first shots on target, while we have struggled to create in the final third at the other end.

With Southampton somewhat revitalised in attack, netting seven league goals in four matches under Ralph Hasenhuttl (as many as they had bagged in their previous ten fixtures combined), a clean sheet could prove the difference on Sunday.

As Guardiola and Bernardo Silva asserted after the Leicester defeat, addressing those mistakes and cutting them out is imperative. Solidarity at St Mary’s is key.

5 Patience of a Saint

Undoubtedly buoyed by Leicester and Crystal Palace’s successes, Southampton boss Hasenhuttl has urged his side to be ‘uncompromising’ against City, with many predicting a Blues backlash.

The Champions boast a fine record against the Saints in recent years, losing just one of the last 11 clashes and tallying an eye-opening aggregate score of 12-2 in our last four victories.

A win at St Mary’s would mark our fifth successive triumph over Southampton – a feat we haven’t achieved before – but the south coast side have experienced an upturn in fortunes since the arrival of Hasenhuttl, notably defeating Arsenal 3-2 on home soil a matter of weeks ago with their first triumph over a top six side in 30 attempts.

The home side will be just as desperate for three points on Sunday, currently sitting three points above the relegation zone after Thursday’s defeat to West Ham.

City can take encouragement from the fact the Saints have dropped 15 points from winning positions in the league – the most of any top-flight side – but hopefully, we will not find ourselves trailing!

Surprisingly, we haven’t scored in the final game of a calendar year since 2014 (a 2-2 draw with Burnley), with our last victory a 1-0 triumph against Crystal Palace in December 2013.

Sunday would mark an excellent time to end that run…

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