Manchester City batted away their English Premier League away blues with a victory over West Brom on Wednesday, but it will mean little if Manuel Pellegrini and co. cannot follow that up with yet another three points at Southampton on Saturday.
City have been explosive at home, scoring goals at will and staying perfect so far. The case away had been a lot different, however, before that 3-2 victory at the Hawthorns.
The former champions will take a lot of confidence from that victory, and they will need to be at their best to come away with maximum points against the Saints, desperate for a result themselves after three consecutive reverses against Arsenal, Chelsea and Aston Villa.
"I think that playing a good team like Southampton, when they lose the last three games, it could be more difficult for us," Pellegrini said.
The Chilean, whose City side are five points behind Arsenal at the moment, but can cut it to two with a win, also stressed on the importance of maintaining their momentum to keep pace with the rest of the title challengers.
"It was an important game for us to win three points away, but I think the fight for the title is exactly the same -- eight or nine teams very close in terms of points," Pellegrini said.
"So for us it's very important to continue winning. We have five more games to reach the halfway stage of the season and we must continue in this way."
For Southampton, it is simple, find their mojo back, and look to return to the form that took them near the top of the table, which at the moment has drifted a long way back with Arsenal a full 12 points ahead.
"I enjoy everything in football. Obviously, I'd prefer to enjoy the positive moments because no-one wants to go through negative times, but I need to be fully-focused and to relish these moments when they come around," Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino.
"Manchester City have some great players so we'll be facing a great side - we all know that," Mauricio continued. "It's a very tough test.
"When we don't have possession, we need to pressure them. They have very good players who are able to impose themselves very well, so we need to be able to neutralise that to cut the supply to dangerous players."
Saints, though, have a major problem with injuries, losing nearly half their squad through injury. Victor Wanyama [hairline fracture], Nathaniel Clyne [groin], Artur Boruc (hand), Morgan Schneiderlin [groin], Kelvin Davis [gluteus], Guly do Prado [knee] and Danny Fox [hamstring] are all sidelined for the Saints. Jose Fonte is also a major doubt.
Pochettino, though, is relishing the challenge of giving the youngsters, so much in abundance at St. Mary's, an opportunity to prove their worth.
"Southampton has a project, which involves mixing young players with more experienced ones," Pochettino added. "This is a big test for us right now, but it's a good chance to give young players like Harry Reed, Sam Gallagher, Cody Cropper, Will Britt and Matt Targett an opportunity.
"It's a very good experience for them to be in the midst of more veteran players in the senior side. It's a good chance for us to actually execute our plan of bringing younger players into the side. We have confidence in their ability to come into the fold and into the action," Pochettino continued.
"Obviously, we are taking a risk when we put them into that environment but we shouldn't forget that players like Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers are also young players. They are only 18 or 19 years old but they are taking part in first-team matches.
"This is a process of gaining maturity and giving them experience. It's a great project to be able to execute when the team is playing well, but also in tough moments like this."
Manchester City will be happy with their injury list reducing, with skipper Vincent Kompany returning from a while out against West Brom, and Pellegrini believes the Belgian defender is good to go against the Saints on Saturday. That leaves Davis Silva, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic as the players sidelined.
Key men: Southampton: Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez need to continue showing just why Roy Hodgson called them up to the England squad.
Manchester City: Alvaro Negredo just seems to get better and better with every passing game in the Premier League, and the Spanish international could be a handful for the Saints defence.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 8.30 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports 4. You can also watch the action via live streaming by clicking HERE. To catch the action in the U.S., click HERE. For live streaming in the Middle East and North Africa, click HERE.
Expected lineups: Southampton: Gazzaniga; Clyne, Lovren, Fonte, Shaw; Cork, Davis; Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert.
Manchester City: Pantilimon; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Toure, Fenandinho; Navas, Aguero, Nasri; Negredo.
Prediction: 2-0 to Manchester City
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