Manchester City-Southampton Preview
LONDON (SE) - Manchester City have not given up on the Premier League title ahead of their trip to St Mary's to play Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Roberto Mancini's City (15-8-2) are nine points behind league leaders and local rivals Manchester United with 13 games remaining, but the Italian is convinced his team still have a strong chance of retaining their crown.
"The championship is not over, absolutely not, because of last season and also two years ago," said Mancini. "Chelsea were nine points behind and they were only two points behind when they went to United in the final week.
"I don't think it is finished. There is room for mistakes. I think we probably need to win all of our games, but that can happen sometimes. I think that, like last year, we recovered eight points in six games. The season is long, three months to go, and United have to play the FA Cup and Champions League. We are confident."
Saturday's hosts Southampton (5-9-11) have overcome a tricky start and have lost just one of their last nine league games to move out of the league's bottom three. Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is aware of the challenge the Saints face if they are to continue their strong form on Saturday, but is confident of improving on the 3-2 defeat against City at the start of the season.
"When we speak about Manchester City, yes of course we played very well (at the Etihad)," said Schneiderlin. "It was our first game in the Premier League. For myself it was my first game in the Premier League as well. It was a good performance, but we lost the game. It was a pain. But I'm sure we can show Manchester City how far we have come and we can cause them many problems.
"They are the favourites, but we showed since the start of the season that we can cause problems to anyone and we will cause some problems to Manchester City."
Southampton are missing Jose Fonte (knee) and have doubts over Guilherme do Prado (knee), Gaston Ramirez (leg), Nathaniel Clyne (knock) and Luke Shaw (knock). City are without Micah Richards (knee) and Vincent Kompany (calf).
The Saints have conceded only 14 of their 44 goals at home, and have allowed just three in their last six matches at St Mary's. There has not been more than one goal scored at either end in any of the Saints' last five home matches, and Mauricio Pochettino's side has not lost in any of the eight games in which Rickie Lambert has scored this season.
City have conceded just 10 goals away from home - a joint league low - but have managed eight goals less on the road than last season (18 compared to 26) at this point. Striker Edin Dzeko has scored five goals in his last five league starts, but City go into this fixture on the back of two games without a win.
Manchester City rallied to win the reverse fixture in August, with Dzeko and Samir Nasri scoring eight minutes apart late in the second half to seal the win.