Southampton manager Ronald Koeman thinks opponents Manchester City are used to coping with criticism as they go into Saturday’s Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium under pressure.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men are on a poor run having drawn with bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa before suffering consecutive defeats at the hands of Liverpool and Juventus.
Southampton lost to Stoke City last week, but that negative result came after an impressive eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
Koeman, though, does not feel his side have any major advantage going into the game, despite the scrutiny over City’s form, and sympathised with Pellegrini’s long injury list.
“Teams like City are used to having that pressure about winning games and if you don’t win as a big team there are always critics,” he said.
“But I think one of the reasons is they have some big injuries in key players and even for a team like City it is difficult for them to handle that with all the number of games that they have to play.
“Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero was a long time out. We have problems when we have some players not available, but also they have some problems.”
One area Koeman feels Southampton could benefit from, though, is the fact City have had a match and a trip to Italy this week while his team have not had a game.
He continued: “It is possible that we will be fresher for the last part of the game.
“So if it is still a good result for us at that moment it could be tougher for them in the last 20 minutes.
“But then you have to play the first 70 minutes at a high level to be ahead or even be drawing the game at that moment.”
Pellegrini said after the Juve match that it was unclear whether the hamstring injury that forced Joe Hart off would keep him out, but felt Willy Caballero was prepared if the England goalkeeper is unable to play.
On the other injuries at City, who sit two points behind leaders Leicester City in third, Pellegrini said: “David Silva [foot] is working with the physio and we will know more soon.
“Vincent Kompany [calf] has no chance to play this week. He is not running yet and will need at least two weeks more.
“It is a difficult moment for the team and that is why I am not so unhappy in the way we played [in Turin] because we didn’t have many chances to make substitutions.”
Samir Nasri (hamstring) is out for the long term, while checks will be made on Wilfried Bony (hamstring), as well as Eliaquim Mangala and Pablo Zabaleta, who both have knocks.
Southampton, meanwhile, are without Graziano Pelle through suspension, as well as long-term injury absences Fraser Forster (knee), Florin Gardos (knee) and Jay Rodriguez (ankle).
Key Opta stats:
– Raheem Sterling has scored in three of his five Premier League games against Southampton.
– Southampton have won just one of the last eight Premier League games against City (W1 D2 L5).
– Sergio Aguero is the top-scoring South American player in Premier League history (85 goals).
– City have mustered the most shots of any team in the top flight this season (164, not including blocked).
– City have won just three of their last eight Premier League games (W3 D2 L3).
– City have not lost back-to-back Premier League games at home since December 2008.