Southampton FC predicted team lineup vs Man City in League Cup

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NATHAN JONES and his Saints team face one of the biggest challenges in the world soccer this evening when they face Manchester City at St Mary’s for a place in the EFL Cup semi-finals.

A rotated City side crushed Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup largely on Sunday, further emphasizing the magnitude of the task that awaits Jones’ struggling Saints.

Saints approach the game on the back of a tumultuous period in which they’ve won just once in their last 13 Premier League matches, including no wins in four under Jones.

READ MORE: Nathan Jones admits Saints are lacking ‘real natural leaders’ in ‘great group’

But they have fared slightly better in the cups, Jones’ first two wins coming against Lincoln City and Crystal Palace in the EFL Cup and FA Cup respectively.

Wednesday’s cup clash will come too soon for Armel Bella-Kotchap and Stuart Armstrong, both of whom missed the weekend’s win at Crystal Palace, while Jones has remained cagey on the chances of new signing Mislav Orsic getting his first minutes in a Saints shirt.

Speaking on Monday afternoon about the possibility of Orsic making his debut, Jones said: “That’s a daily thing we have to assess. Obviously, he hasn’t played much football since scoring the winner in the World Cup third/fourth play-off so we’re just going to have to assess that.

“Because what we don’t want to do is push him too early and then something happens where he breaks down and then we lose him. That will be crazy. So we’ll just see day to day.”

Daily Echo:

With a largely fit squad otherwise, here’s how we think Jones will set up against Pep Guardiola’s expensively-assembled City side…

Goalkeeper

Any potential goalkeeper controversy brought about by Gavin Bazunu’s stuttering form has been set aside for now as Alex McCarthy works his way back from an ankle injury.

With no other options outside of 41-year-old Willy Caballero – and with no appetite yet shown to drop Bazunu – it should be the Irish youngster who starts between the sticks against his former side.

Daily Echo:

Impressive in October’s 4-0 defeat at the Eithad – despite the four goals conceded – Bazunu will look to make it a memorable evening against the team that sold him to Saints last summer.

Defense

Jones has insisted that he is not wedded to any specific formation and after largely utilizing a back five in his infant Saints days, he switched to a four-at-the-back with Lyanco on the right against Crystal Palace.

Kyle Walker-Peters started on the bench for the trip to South London, but we expect him to regain his place on the right side of Saints’ defense regardless of formation.

While many Saints fans would like to see Jones stick with the back-four system he used on the weekend, we expect him to switch back to a five with Romain Perraud opposite Walker-Peters and Mohammad Salisu, Duje Caleta-Carand Lyanco making up the central defensive trio.

Daily Echo:

If Jones does indeed stick with a back four, it would likely be Caleta-Car dropping out based on the manager’s tendency to include Lyanco regardless of system or shape.

Midfield

Central midfield has been a problem area for Saints throughout the season regardless of manager and while it won’t help for the visit of City, impending new signing Carlos Alcaraz should help alleviate some of those issues.

But in the meantime, Jones has to decide between what he has available. Captain James Ward-Prowse should retain his place after scoring his third goal of the new boss’ era at Palace.

Daily Echo:

Alongside Ward-Prowse, Jones has shown a preference for Me Elyounoussi in a hybrid midfield-winger role while City academy graduate Romeo Lavia should return to the team after being rested for the FA Cup third round.

attack

Despite some profligate finishing, Che Adams remains one of the first names on the teamsheet and after being withdrawn just past the hour-mark at Selhurst Park, the striker should be fresh and ready for City’s arrival.

Alongside Adams, adam armstrong will be hoping to keep his place after scoring the winner against Crystal Palace. Should Jones opt for a two-man midfield rather than three, it would open up a spot for one of Joe Aribo or Samuel Edozie.

Daily Echo:

Full predicted team:

Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Lyanco, Caleta-Car, Salisu, Perraud; Lavia, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi; Adams, A Armstrong

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