Ooh, to win two games in a row, now, eh? That would be very handy and very timely indeed. And with the visit of Southampton to the Circle tonight, we’re allowed to think it possible.
City have, after a wretched start to 2014, come into a semblance of form. A creditable draw against Tottenham Hotspur followed by a destructive, utterly dominant victory at Sunderland makes the Tigers notable and noticeable again, and Southampton won’t take this one lightly. A likeable club with gallant fans and a good team, they’ll do what a lot of clubs who’ve fallen by our wayside this season haven’t done, and take us seriously.
It has potential to be a smashing game, with two progressive, high-pressing, forward thinking sides who each have a smattering of England wannabes for the summer in their ranks (though Saints have more chance at the moment of getting a player in the squad than City). Southampton are at the bottom of the “safe” section of the Premier League with City (jointly) top of the “less safe” section. There are nine points in between but only two places and all games that don’t involve the Champions League contenders feel winnable, especially at home.
Steve Bruce has to make one alteration from the side that started at the Stadium Of Light, as Liam Rosenior suffered a thigh injury on Wearside, hence his non-appearance for the second half. It feels improbable that Ahmed Elmohamady’s potency will be nullified by a stint at right back, so maybe the wing back system will come back into force, allowing a return for either Robbie Brady or Alex Bruce, the latter of which would shift Maynor Figueroa into the advanced wide role. Sone Aluko will again edge his way back into contention via a cameo from the bench.
It’s also an important occasion for Steve Harper, who has impressed in goal during Allan McGregor’s suspension and may give Bruce a problem with selection with a good performance tonight, as McGregor is eligible again afterwards.
Southampton have no fresh injury concerns following their 2-2 home draw with Stoke at the weekend, but remain without long-term absentees Dejan Lovren and Gaston Ramirez. They’ll be aiming for a double tonight, having cuffed City 4-1 in November in what was arguably the Tigers’ poorest performance of the season.
City have won one, drawn one and lost two against Saints at the Circle. Turf accountants have laid odds of 7/4 on City, with Saints priced at 13/8 and the draw 9/4. Two wins in a row, as the Premier League squeezes itself even tighter: how nice would that be? And just in time for a Premier League break too. It’s doable. It’s tonight. C’mon City.