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Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Manchester City head to the St Mary’s stadium where they face Southampton in the quarter-final of the EFL Cup.

With a place in the last four up for grabs, coach Pep Guardiola will be feeling confident of winning the tie considering the poor form of their opponents. Southampton are currently rock bottom in the Premier League and short of confidence.

The Saints had an easier path to the last eight having beaten three lower-league teams while City have had to battle past Liverpool and Chelsea in the previous two rounds. But Saints coach Nathan Jones has made a poor start since taking the reins early in November by losing all four league matches he has been in charge of.

Strong favourites

His side have also conceded 10 goals in the process and City will be strong favourites to put in a professional display and win to advance. But, Jones has found some solace in the cup competitions. The Saints beat Lincoln City and Crystal Palace by 2-1 scorelines in the EFL Cup and FA Cup respectively.

They will need James Ward-Prowse to be at his best if they are to make life difficult for City and even if he plays well this will be a daunting task for the home side. They have only beaten City once in 15 meetings and anything but a comfortable away win would be a major surprise.

City have started the New Year brightly with back-to-back victories over Chelsea in the space of four days with Guardiola having the luxury of being able to rest star man Erling Haaland. The Norweigian ace will be recalled for league duty as City try to close down Arsenal’s five point lead at the top. The Premier League is Guardiola’s priority but City have a very good EFL Cup record. They have won the trophy seven times in the last 10 years.

Knee injury

Southampton will be without defender Armel Bella-Kotchap due to a knee injury and midfielders Stuart Armstrong and Theo Walcott. The pressure will be on Che Adams who will lead the attack but the striker will feel confident having scored five goals in his last three EFL Cup appearances.

City will be missing Ruben Dias but Aymeric Laporte has recovered from a minor back issue and could partner John Stones at the back. Jack Grealish could be handed a start at the expense of Phil Foden but Haaland could again find himself on the bench. Guardiola will want him fresh and ready for the Manchester derby on Saturday.

Even with a second string side, City will be strong favourites to progress to the EFL Cup semi-finals.