(Reuters) – Southampton are braced for a tough Premier League game against Manchester City on Sunday, manager Claude Puel said, despite the Premier League leaders’ recent winless run.
City started strongly with 10 wins in all competitions this season under new manager Pep Guardiola but have lost two of their last four matches, including a 4-0 Champions League defeat at Barcelona on Wednesday.
“It’s difficult to defend against them, because they like to have good possession. I think City are playing a good game and had good style against Barcelona. For me, (there was) no big difference between the two teams,” Puel told reporters on Friday.
Puel tipped in-form striker Charlie Austin, who has scored seven goals in his last seven games, to earn a call-up to the England national team.
“I hope for him, he is an interesting player, he’s a real striker and it’s important to have a good striker on the team,” Puel added.
Shane Long is likely to miss the City match after sustaining a hamstring injury in the 1-0 loss to Inter Milan in the Europa League on Thursday.
Puel called on Southampton, who are eighth in the table, to play their own brand of football.
“It’s difficult with just two days between games. It’s important for us to recover and prepare well. City have had more time for recovery, but we must be ready,” he said.
“For us it is important to play our football, and I think we can have a good game at City.
The French manager will make a late call on the fitness of full backs Ryan Bertrand and Matt Targett.
(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)