Pep Guardiola lost his temper when reminded about Southampton’s recent 9-0 thrashings and insisted his Manchester City side face a serious ‘test’ during a tetchy press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s clash at the Etihad.
City’s incredible 21-game winning streak in all competitions was finally brought to an end by Manchester United at the weekend and the runaway Premier League leaders will be desperate to respond with a convincing victory over the Saints.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men may be buoyed by their recent win away to Sheffield United but find themselves languishing down in 14th place and will still be hurting after a gruelling period in the English top flight which saw them lose five matches on the spin.
Asked whether City could begin a new winning run against a vulnerable Southampton, a spiky Guardiola replied: ‘No run exists, it’s one game at a time.
‘Southampton tried to do a good game against a good side, I’m a big fan of the style and the way Ralph and his team are playing.
‘I don’t see the table, I see the quality they have and it’s another test to play good and try to win.’
Southampton’s last trip to Manchester ended in humiliation as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United thumped them 9-0 at Old Trafford to equal the highest margin ever in a Premier League match.
It was the second time Hasenhuttl’s side had lost by that scoreline in as many seasons – after Leicester put nine goals past them at St Mary’s – but the suggestion Southampton would simply roll over and accept another thrashing did not go down well with Guardiola.
Asked whether he will bear in mind Southampton’s recent 9-0 defeats, the Catalan responded: ‘No, 18! We’ll score 18. 18-0, we’re going to score. This will be the result.
‘What a question! Listen, [United] scored nine when they play 88 minutes when it was 10 against 11. Do you think it’s a joke?! This game we’re going to score nine goals or 18 goals? Come on, be serious.
‘We’re going to try to win the game. It will be an incredible success for us to win the game. That’s all.’
Pressed on whether Sunday’s result will give the Red Devils renewed hope of catching City, Guardiola replied: ‘Yeah, of course.
‘When the option is open everything can happen in football. Nobody was waiting that we could do 21 games in a row, 15 games in the Premier League, so everything can happen. Absolutely agree.
‘The people like United can do it. We have ten games left and we have to win six or seven games to be champions mathematically.
‘Tomorrow we will try to win the first one.’