Manchester City return to the defence of their League Cup crown by taking on a struggling Southampton at the Etihad Stadium. Ahead of this game, we spoke to Dan Hargraves to get his view on a number of topics, including their most recent performance against Leicester…
Many thanks for joining us ahead of Tuesday night’s game Dan. How does this start to the campaign compare with the expectations Southampton fans had going into the season?
The start to the season has been nowhere near what the fans expected in the summer, but optimists will say that we’re not far away from where we want to be in the league table. The expectation was that there wouldn’t be anywhere near as much stress regarding possible relegation as the past two seasons, and that we’d have a comfortable mid-table finish. However performances aren’t suggesting that we’ll achieve this.
Following Friday’s 9-0 defeat to Leicester City at St. Mary’s, how much time do you feel Ralph Hasenhuttl has left at the club?
Hasenhuttl didn’t put out the right team, nor did he manage the game well against Leicester, but our predicament isn’t down to him. He’s still got the majority of our fanbase on his side as he’s easily the best manager we’ve had since Ronald Koeman departed. He’s unlikely to be sacked in the near future, as the club’s priority is bringing in a new director of football instead of a new coach.
Will Southampton take the League Cup seriously this season, given the pressure that is currently on them in the Premier League?
100% we’re taking it seriously. For teams like us, who have no chance of qualifying for Europe through the league, the cup proves to be a good opportunity to have an enjoyable season.
The starting lineups we put out in the previous two rounds were strong and the performances were dominant, especially against our fierce rivals Portsmouth in the previous round. We are also yet to concede in the competition this season, with 1-0 and 4-0 wins away at Fulham and Portsmouth respectively. However, after Friday night, it may be a case of ‘who wants to play’ as opposed to the line-up that has the highest quality on paper.
Who are Southampton’s best attacking threats at the moment?
Easily Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings. Redmond was by far the standout player on Friday, despite the atrocity put out by the ‘defenders’, and is always a threat going forward. As for Ings, five goals in his last five games makes him our most in-form player, and he should be starting both in the cup and the league game on Saturday afternoon.
Given Southampton’s disastrous last outing, are you under the impression that complacency on Manchester City’s part gives you a chance to nick a victory at the Etihad on Tuesday?
Not at all. The expectation amongst most of the fanbase is that we’ll be comfortably beaten. Having said that, I do expect us to compete and I don’t actually think it will be a scoreline nearly as disastrous as our last trip to the Etihad. Hasenhuttl isn’t the type of manager to accept defeat before a ball is kicked, and he’ll put out a team he thinks will get us into the quarter-finals of the competition.
How do you see the game panning out and how should Hassenhuttl approach it?
Going onto the point made in the previous answer, I think the cup game will be a lot tighter than the league game. Hasenhuttl has to make changes to that disgraceful side that played Leicester on Friday and include players who’ve been on the bench for too long – the likes of Stuart Armstrong, Sofiane Boufal and Che Adams.
It will be interesting to see if he sticks to a back-five which we played in the league against Wolves and Leicester and, given the significant attacking quality we’ll be facing, I think he may opt for the extra defender.
Southampton Predicted XI and score prediction?
Predicted XI: Alex McCarthy, Yan Valery, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Kevin Danso, Pierre Hojbjerg, Oriol Romeu, Stuart Armstrong, Sofiane Boufal, Nathan Redmond, Danny Ings
Score Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Southampton.