Man City vs Southampton: Adams vs Akanji & Other Key Battles To Watch Out For

Manchester City will aim to continue their unbeaten start to the Premier League season when they host Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The Sky Blues are flying at the moment, second in the table with 20 points from eight games. They demolished cross-town rivals Manchester United 6-3 at home last time out and are coming off a sensational 5-0 victory over FC Copenhagen in the Champions League.

Southampton, on the other hand, sit on the opposite side of the table heading into the game. Ralph Hasenhuttl is walking a tightrope at the St Mary’s Stadium after winning just seven points from the opening eight games. A positive result at Man City could give Hasenhuttl a breather for the next couple of games, at least.

That said, let us take a look at 3 key battles to watch out for in the game between Man City and Southampton.

#Erling Haaland vs Armel Bella-Kotchap & Duje Caleta-Car

It would not make sense for anyone to bet against Erling Haaland from scoring at the moment. He has taken the Premier League by storm, banging goals left, right and centre.

After ripping apart Manchester United along with Phil Foden, Haaland bagged a brace in Man City’s 5-0 rout of FC Copenhagen to take his season’s tally to 19 goals in all competitions in just 12 games. The Norwegian’s displays in Sky Blue colours are the demonstration of his awesome scoring power, rapid pace and immense physicality.

The 22-year-old is quite rightly expected to lead the City attack at the weekend. Southampton’s centre-back pairing of Armel Bella-Kotchap and Duje Caleta-Car will have their hands full dealing with Haaland, considering his movement, pace, power and the free goal-scoring form he is in.

Haaland has proven to be nearly unstoppable to date, so it will be intriguing to watch what plan the Southampton centre-backs come up with to stop the Norwegian goal-machine.

#Kevin de Bruyne vs James Ward-Prowse

Kevin de Bruyne and James Ward-Prowse could be at the centre of many midfield battles on Saturday when Man City takes on Southampton.

One of the world’s best players, De Bruyne sets the tempo of play for the Sky Blues and will be at the heart of most of their attacks. With a goal and eight assists in eight league games, the Belgian midfield maestro heads into the weekend clash in unbelievable form.

Stopping De Bruyne from setting the tempo of play and creating opportunities in the final third will be of utmost importance for Southampton if they are to return home with a positive result, which could see Hasenhuttl task James Ward-Prowse with keeping a close watch on the City midfielder.

Ward-Prowse will have to be at his best when constructing attacks from deep while covering the shaky backline. The Saints’ fortunes at the Etihad Stadium will largely depend on how the England international performs.

#Che Adams vs Manuel Akanji

Southampton are not expected to dominate the ball and carve open Man City consistently at the Etihad Stadium. Their game will be based on sitting back and counter-attacking City with pace from wide areas.

Che Adams, the Saints’ main man in attack, should find himself mostly isolated up front in a game that City are expected to dominate. That is why Adams will need to be at his clinical best when he is presented with opportunities in front of goal.

Standing in the Southampton striker’s way will be Manuel Akanji. Akanji has seamlessly slotted into Guardiola’s side since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, and the defender put in a strong showing against Man United last weekend.

Tall and strong with good passing ability, the Swiss will be hoping to put in another commanding display for Man City and contain Adams.

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