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All signs suggest Saints will rise to Manchester City challenge

Since their Premier League return in 2012, Southampton have taken four points from a possible six at home against reigning champions Manchester City.

Couple that with Ronald Koeman being able to boast the best defensive record in the division this term, and Saints are a tasty 2/1 with Coral to beat Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

South coast club Southampton have let in just six league goals all season, and only one at St Mary’s. City have conceded more than double (13), and both these teams are free-scoring on 24 apiece, with only Chelsea netting more.

This means Saints are averaging two goals per game, while shutting out opponents in half their league outings so far.

As stats go these are hugely impressive and, taken alongside City dropping seven points in matches following Champions League encounters, the visitors look to be false favourites at 13/10. A draw is priced 13/5.

Pellegrini can unleash in-form Sergio Aguero on Southampton, following five goals in his last three across all competitions, but even the lethal Argentine attacker has a less than impressive scoring record against this opposition.

Aguero has struck one in three previous career appearances when playing Saints, but is the man the home defence must shackle here, as he is even-money in the anytime market, and a better 4/1 to grab the opener.

Coral also offer a special enhanced 3/1 wincast on Aguero scoring anytime and City emerging victorious. Please note punters, there is a maximum stake of £20 on this bet.

Punters that fancy City to be too strong in this acid test of Koeman’s credentials should be aware of Samir Nasri’s return of two in four for the Etihad outfit in this fixture.

Since being left out of the French national team, ex-Arsenal attacking midfielder Nasri has been able to concentrate on his club, and is a sumptuous 7/2 to score anytime again against Southampton.

City are under-strength for this trip, with Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko, Serbia wing back Aleksandar Kolarov and silky Spain creative force David Silva all still sidelined. Midfield will be boosted, however, as Fernandinho and Yaya Toure’s suspensions were for European games only.

Up against Pellegrini’s men, who have kept just one clean sheet in nine across all competitions, are a Saints side that has only failed to score twice this campaign so far.

Leading marksman Graziano Pelle has netted in three of his last five home games, so why not back the Italy international to do so again at 7/4?

Republic of Ireland counterpart Shane Long did the damage in Southampton’s last match on their own turf though, when he bagged a brace against lowly Leicester City. A repeat performance or better is an 11/2 shot, while he is a safer 2/1 anytime chance.

New England right back Nathaniel Clyne, meanwhile, has already netted against Arsenal and Liverpool this term, and the overlapping threat both he and Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand offer is key to the way Saints play.

Also on target at Aston Villa last time out, Clyne is a 12/1 chance to come up with some again here. Koeman will hope to have Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis back from injury here too.

As fabulous as Southampton have been, a win to nil does not look all that likely with predator Aguero buoyed by hitting a hat-trick against Bayern Munich in midweek.

What is tempting, however, are odds of 9/2 on a home win with both teams scoring, while a 2-1 result in Saints’ favour rewards punters with a tasty 10/1 price.