Mauricio Pochettino knows three of his countrymen stand between him and a first win as Saints boss tomorrow night.

David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero are all major players for Manchester City and the kind of attacking threats Saints will have to shackle to bag a valuable win.

“It's obvious they are great players,” Pochettino said. “We know that we have to stop the players getting balls to these three players.

“We know any of these three can decide the match at any time so we have to stop the ball getting to them.”

City talisman Yaya Toure is confident the champions can pull themselves back into the Premier League title race.

Toure and his brother Kolo, the defender, are now back at City after a month away playing in the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.

Roberto Mancini’s men have been unbeaten in their absence but draws in the last two fixtures against QPR and Liverpool have seen them slip nine points behind Manchester United.

After memorably recovering from an eight-point deficit to win the title last season with six matches remaining, Toure is sure there is enough time for City to turn it round again with 13 still to play.

The midfielder said: “We are further behind than we’d like, of course, but all we need to do is think about last season to know what is possible.

“My friends are all here and are happy to see me and we are like a family or brothers who will all fight together – and that is a very important thing to have.

“United have a strong squad and, on paper, they have an easier run in than we do but the title race is a long way from finished.

“It only takes a couple of results to go our way and we're right back in it - I’m sure we'll come back.”

United striker Wayne Rooney is also taking nothing for granted “Look at Manchester City against QPR. They ended up dropping two points.

“That could quite easily have happened to us against Southampton the following night.”