Pep Guardiola has been near all-conquering in the League Cup since joining Manchester City in 2016, but thus far he has just one FA Cup trophy to his name, having been eliminated from the semi-final three times in his five seasons at the helm. In Southampton he faces a side trophy-less in nearly 50 years.
Before City’s big takeover towards the end of the noughties they had not claimed the FA Cup since 1969. Southampton enjoyed success more recently to Joe Mercer’s Wembley triumph all those years ago, claiming the coveted cup in 1976, but that is their only triumph in this competition — and their last trophy.
With the Saints ensconced comfortably mid-table, neither in threat of relegation nor within touching distance of the European places, Ralph Hasenhuttl may see the FA Cup as his main priority now, with the opportunity to go all-out and produce something special — with the added luxury of an international break following.
That club football hiatus could mean both managers go full throttle here. Guardiola is a serial winner and would love to embellish his legacy further with another shiny piece of silverware, but they’ve already been knocked out by West Ham in the League Cup this term, could Southampton produce something similar here?
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Southampton vs Man City: Match Stats
Joao Cancelo is one of just three players in the Premier League this season, alongside Harry Kane and Bruno Fernandes (both 54) to register 50 or more right-footed shots (50). It’s a remarkable feat for the right-back-cum-left-back, who will be itching to further sting the gloves of ‘cup keeper’ Willy Caballero.
Southampton are a pressing side, a philosophy embedded in the club’s recent psyche by Hasenhuttl, so expect plenty of crunching challenges and closing down. Oriol Romeu has collected the second-most yellow cards in the Premier League this season (eight), so he may well find himself walking the tightrope at some stage.
22 Jan 2022 – Southampton 1-1 Man City – Premier League
18 Sep 2021 – Man City 0-0 Southampton – Premier League
10 Mar 2021 – Man City 5-2 Southampton – Premier League
19 Dec 2020 – Southampton 0-1 Man City – Premier League
05 Jul 2020 – Southampton 1-0 Man City – Premier League
These days it’s not often you go unbeaten against City in the Premier League. Even the traditional ‘Big Six’ struggle to pull that off. But that is exactly what Southampton have done this season. Back in September, the Saints kept a clean sheet in a goalless draw against the reigning champions, while more recently, Hasenhuttl masterminded a 1-1 on home soil. He will be hoping they can go one better this time around.