Manchester City travel to Southampton on Saturday a team under pressure.
A 1-1 draw against West Brom on Tuesday saw Pep Guardiola’s side lose more ground in the race for the Premier League title and, remarkably, saw such widespread calls for the manager’s head that it started to trend on social media.
Guardiola, having recently signed a new deal with the club, is going nowhere soon but his side are facing something of a credibility crisis.
Aston Villa, West Ham, Everton and Saints, who lie third in the standings, are among the teams to have won more Premier League games than them this term.
This may be City’s final game before Christmas, yet it the club are already straying dangerously close to ‘must-win’ territory.
Guardiola should have a strong panel to pick from. Centre-back Eric Garcia and left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko will be assessed. Pep, however, indicated that Garcia would be missing for “two or three weeks” prior to the derby draw with Manchester United last week, suggesting he will not be fit.
Given the lack of scoring punch that was displayed by Gabriel Jesus in midweek, Sergio Aguero is liable to be given the nod to feature in the starting XI for the first time since injury.
City’s outstanding player in midweek was midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. He should be retained in the starting XI, assuming there has been no issues with regards his recent injury troubles, and will play alongside Fernandinho, who is set to replace Rodri.
Changes are set to come in defence, too. Ruben Dias will retain his spot but otherwise no-one is safe. Poor in midweek, Benjamin Mendy is likely to drop out, while John Stones, in good form of late, should return.
Southampton, meanwhile, could have the luxury of a full squad to select from as they continue their unlikely challenge towards the summit of the league.