Manuel Pellegrini may be upset about the scheduling of Manchester City’s trip to Southampton on Sunday, but he is determined to maintain their battle for a top-three finish in the Premier League.
City travel to St Mary’s Stadium in between the two legs of their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid and Pellegrini had hoped the clash would be moved to Saturday in order to allow his squad time to recover before the return match in Spain.
That request was denied, much to the disbelief of Pellegrini, but the Chilean will not allow it to have a negative impact on his side as they look to secure a guaranteed place in next season’s Champions League proper.
Due to their fixture congestion City are expected to make changes against the Saints, with David Silva and Yaya Toure already having been ruled out.
“I said before we knew we were going to play eight games in 30 days, which is a lot for this squad so I’m making rotations in every game we play,” said Pellegrini
“We have two different competitions – one is the Premier League where we want to be as near to the top of the table as we can and the other is to try and reach that final.
“And the best way to play well on Wednesday is to play well and win on Sunday.”
However, he knows Southampton – who are also chasing a European place – will be no pushovers.
He added: “Southampton are a team that in the last three years are doing very well – they have very good players.
“They sold a lot of players this season and it’s a merit to Ronald Koeman that they are doing so well.”
Southampton are locked in a battle for the final Europa League place with three games to – although rivals West Ham and Liverpool have a game in hand – and come into the tie with six wins in their last eight at home.
City’s visit is the first of two matches at St Mary’s before the end of the campaign, and Koeman – who has a fully fit squad – is keen to use home advantage to secure continental qualification.
“If we finish in a good way against Crystal Palace on the final day, then I can be proud about my second season,” he said. “To be in Europe would be great for Southampton.
“We had a good season, some good points, but maybe we lost too many points away from home.
“We still have some big games to play, the first this Sunday against Manchester City and that’s good. So that we are still strong and show the belief and the spirit to finish this season in a good way.”
City won November’s reverse fixture 3-1.
Key Opta stats:
– Southampton have won just one of their last nine Premier League games versus Manchester City (drawing two, losing six).
– Joe Hart could make his 300th Premier League appearance in this match and would be the sixth English goalkeeper to reach this landmark in the competition.
– Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last five Premier League appearances, but has never scored in six in a row in the competition.
– This is now Shane Long’s best goalscoring season in the Premier League (nine goals) and the Irish striker has had a hand in eight goals in his last eight league appearances (four goals, four assists).
– Sadio Mane has scored four goals in his last five Premier League games for Southampton; this after a run of 19 league appearances without scoring.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!