Southampton-Manchester City Preview
Pep Guardiola will never get sick of talking about Erling Haaland, but he insists comparisons to Lionel Messi are unwelcome.
The Manchester City boss has promised striker Haaland a holiday during the World Cup, because Norway have not qualified, and he may need a break in any case after a breathless start to his career in England.
Haaland has a staggering 14 goals from eight Premier League games already, and Mohamed Salah's record of 32 goals in a 38-game season already looks under serious threat. Kevin De Bruyne was City's top league scorer last season with 15.
At this rate, Haaland could finish the season with the sort of haul Messi often brought in for Barcelona during his prime years, regularly scoring more than 50 across all competitions.
Guardiola has been fortunate to coach them both, and he was asked whether the attention foisted on Haaland was the most he has known since having Messi under his wing at Barcelona.
"The people who compare Erling with Leo, I think we don't help," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's meeting with Southampton. "How many 'new Messis' appeared in the world of football since I started? Ten, 15?
"Always you fail. Erling has to do his own career, his own job. He's a different player."
Whereas City are flying, there is a feeling that Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl may be on borrowed time.
Southampton have lost five games this season and finished last term poorly, while they have lost four of their last five league matches.
Asked if he was feeling under pressure, Hasenhuttl told reporters: "I don't have a different feeling about my job then I think any other manager in the Premier League. You need to get results, you need to get wins and this is what we are concentrating on."
Manchester City - Erling Haaland
Haaland is averaging a goal once every 48 minutes in the Premier League so far, the best rate of anyone to score more than once in the competition's history. Meanwhile, he's also found the net with 42 per cent of his shots (14 goals, 33 shots), the best conversion rate of any player with at least 20 attempts (since 2003-04).
Southampton - James Ward-Prowse
Guardiola previous labelled James Ward-Prowse as the best set-piece taker in the league behind Kevin De Bruyne and the Southampton captain will probably have to live up to that standard if the visitors are to take anything from this game.
- Haaland has scored 14 goals in eight Premier League games, netting a hat-trick in each of his last three appearances at the Etihad Stadium. It is just one goal fewer than the Citizens' top league scorer netted last season (De Bruyne, 15).
- De Bruyne has eight assists in eight Premier League games this season, as many as he got in 30 appearances last season. He has provided two assists in each of his last two Premier League games - the first player to do so since David Silva in August 2019 - and he could become the first player to ever do so in three consecutive games.
- Southampton have conceded the first goal in a league-high six different Premier League games this season. On the two occasions Saints have scored first this term, they have gone on to lose (1-4 vs Tottenham, 1-2 vs Everton).
- City's 29 goals after eight games is the joint-most at this stage of a Premier League campaign, level with their own record from 2017-18. Overall, in the Premier League they have scored 6+ goals in 21 different matches - including twice this season - two more than any other side, despite not featuring in five seasons.
- City have won their last eight Premier League home games, scoring at least three goals each time. The last team to have a longer run of top-flight home wins while scoring 3+ goals was Aston Villa (13 between December 1930 and September 1931).
Updated October 7, 2022