Manchester City v Southampton @ Etihad Stadium
Manchester City will be looking to break a relative drought of two Premier League Matches without a win when they host Southampton on Sunday. City have hit the wall of late, having suffered a 4-0 defeat at Barcelona in midweek, making it four games without a win in all competitions. Despite dominating last week's home game against Everton, City were thwarted and had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw, which ensured Arsenal joined City at the top of the table. Having seen an early 5-point lead at the top evaporate, new Manager Pep Guardiola will be desperate to get back to winning ways and steady the ship for a side that looked to be runaway title favourites just a couple of short weeks ago. With Arsenal and Tottenham held, a win will see City reclaim first spot if they can secure a win here.
Claude Puel's side are unbeaten in the Premier League since September 10 and are up to 8th spot after a last start 3-1 home victory over Burnley. Striker Charlie Austin is on a hot streak right now with 7 goals in his last 7 appearances, including 4 goals this season in the Premier League. City were shock 4-2 losers in their last match against Southampton, however in the home Premier League clash last season ran out 3-1 winners.
Verdict - Manchester City 2 Southampton 0
City need a win here and I expect them to get it despite a tough contest. Guardiola's teams rarely go 5 games without a win in all competitions, and if they can replicate their last home performance against Everton, I'm sure they can get the 3 points here.
Chelsea @ Manchester United @ Stamford Bridge
Jose Mourinho heads back to Stamford Bridge as manager of Manchester United in a high octane clash against Chelsea on Sunday Evening. Mourinho will have mixed emotions on his return after being unceremoniously sacked last season, having made a disastrous start to the season as Champions. Chelsea astonishingly slumped to 16th spot just a couple of points above the relegation zone in early December when Abramovich sacked Mourinho for the second time. While Chelsea fans will long remember Mourinho for guiding the club to three Premier League titles, expect the fanfare on his return to be subdued on this occasion given the importance of this game for Chelsea against a long time rival.
On the surface Chelsea have made a decent start to this season, sitting in 5th spot on 16 points after a nightmare 10th finish in the previous campaign. However, dig a little deeper and you find their wins have come against struggling sides and in their only two big tests, Liverpool and Arsenal both totally dominated Chelsea. Chelsea appeared to play with a lack of belief against Liverpool and Arsenal and were totally over matched in the middle of the park. Whilst David Luiz has made a reasonable re introduction to his 2nd stint at Chelsea their back line remains, slow and suspect.
Mourinho has had a mixed start to his United career after winning his opening three Premier League matches. With just one win in their last five games, including damaging losses to Manchester City and Watford, Mourinho needs a signature win to kick start United stuttering season. While Wayne Rooney has endured a turbulent start to the season, being dropped to the bench for both United and England, Paul Pogba finally found some form in mid-week with 2 goals against Fenerbahce in the Europa League. Chelsea have a good record against United, with their last defeat against United in the Premier League coming in September 2012 when United won 3-2 in a controversial game when Chelsea were reduced to nine men. Last season the teams played out a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Verdict - Manchester United 2 Chelsea 1
This game does not fill me with confidence as a Chelsea fan. Mourinho will be relishing coming back to Stamford Bridge and getting a win like he did back with Inter in the Champions League. United's form is patchy, however Chelsea's only two tests this year were against Liverpool and Arsenal and they failed them miserably, so I can't back them here despite their recent record against Manchester United.