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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Joe Bray

Six Man City players should be dropped vs Manchester United after Southampton shambles

If it's possible to take positives from such an abysmal performance, Pep Guardiola will know there are some quick and easy fixes to correct Manchester City's mistakes at Southampton.

He seemed calm when dissecting City's evening at St Mary's, asserting that the best team won and that his side's errors were more with a collective attitude issue than any tactical changes. "We were not ready to win this game," he said, adding that even if the likes of Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne had started, that he felt the whole squad were guilty of not turning up on the night.

That admission, coupled with captain Ilkay Gundogan saying the 'desire and hunger' to win is not quite right at present, is certainly alarming. However, Guardiola knows that to correct the problems, he can make some straightforward personnel changes for Saturday's Premier League derby at Manchester United.

ALSO READ: Man City squad reaction to Southampton defeat sends Man Utd warning

Guardiola said City have 'no chance' against United if they put in a repeat performance at Old Trafford to the one they produced at Southampton. As much as that quote excited the red half of Manchester, it's a fairly obvious statement - United are bang in form, and City would struggle to win any game with their showing on Wednesday, especially as they failed to muster a single shot on target.

So to increase his chances from zero, he will surely make widespread changes to his side after six players, in particular, failed to take their chance on the south coast.

In goal, Ederson would be expected to come back into the side after two cup games on the bench, but Stefan Ortega's evening at Southampton was a poor one and he may only get one more start this season should City fail to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup later this month.

At fault for City losing possession in the build-up for Southampton's first goal, and strangely in no-man's-land for their second to allow Moussa Djenepo a huge margin of error for his 30-yard lob, Ortega was shaky throughout and City may have hobbled through to half time at 0-0 had Ederson been in goal.

Similarly, they wouldn't have fallen a goal behind had Sergio Gomez not given away possession ridiculously cheaply as he tried to break. His 45 minutes were strewn with errors - including an unforgivable foul throw - and the City faithful who had made the long journey sarcastically cheered when it was announced he was substituted at half-time. Nathan Ake has clearly overtaken Gomez as second-choice left-back, and the Spaniard will have to show some serious improvement on the training ground if he wants to start again this season.

On the other side of defence, Joao Cancelo's inconsistent run continues, as he has started only once at left-back since his red card against Fulham. He was far from the worst player at Southampton, but he also failed to impact the game positively. Kyle Walker was equally ineffective, but he can be forgiven as he was playing out of position at centre-back, and it will surely be between Walker and Rico Lewis to start the derby. Cancelo is out of form on both sides of defence, and may benefit from a return to the bench at Old Trafford.

Likewise, Kalvin Phillips would be extremely lucky to keep his place after finally getting his first start for the club this week. It was a shaky performance that lacked the composure of Rodri, and he was guilty of losing possession for Southampton's second. Guardiola defended Phillips post-match, insisting he needs time, but City improved instantly when Rodri replaced him, and it's a safe bet to assume Phillips will be back on the bench on Saturday.

So too, should Cole Palmer, who hasn't exactly grabbed his chance with both hands in the last two cup games he has started. On the left against Chelsea and the right at Southampton, Palmer did okay and nothing more. On Wednesday especially, he was knocked off the ball far too easily, and City didn't miss him in the second half. In-form Riyad Mahrez is an obvious choice to replace him at United.

And finally, it feels as though Phil Foden may also be due a substitute's role at Old Trafford, despite scoring a hat-trick at the Etihad against United in October. Since then, however, Foden seems to have fallen out of favour a little on the wings, and his last two games in a central position have been encouraging but not electrifying.

When he switched to the wings on Wednesday night he looked better immediately, so if he is to face United that is where he would play. With Guardiola preferring more control out wide in recent weeks, though, it may be that Bernardo Silva or Jack Grealish get the nod over Foden in the derby.

So with at least six players facing a drop to the bench, seven can be confident of starts. Ederson, Ake, Manuel Akanji and Rodri are the most in-form defensive players City have, and will be key to improving the performance and attitude in the next game. Going forward, De Bruyne and Mahrez will also expect to feature from the first whistle, as will Erling Haaland despite his failure to score at Southampton.

If John Stones is available - he missed the Southampton trip due to a lack of fitness - he would also be an obvious starter.

Wholesale changes might not change the mentality, but it will send a message to the fringe players that performances like the St Mary's shambles aren't acceptable. And they certainly won't win City the derby.


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