Mauricio Pochettino insists Saints will have no fear when they visit title chasing Manchester City tomorrow – but admitted his side will need to be almost “perfect” to get a result.
Pochettino has an enviable record against City since taking over at Saints with two games at St Mary’s yielding a win and a draw.
City are a very tough proposition at the Etihad though with wins in 45 of their last 52 home league matches and just three defeats. They have scored 144 times in that period with only 36 conceded.
Saints will be up against it but Pochettino remains optimistic.
“In the time we have been here we have always shown full respect to our opposition whoever we are facing but never any fear,” said the Saints boss.
“We are never fearful of who we are playing against, we always try to play our game, to impose our style, to be brave regardless of the opposition we are facing.
“We know we are going to be facing very tough opposition against Manchester City but we are still going to be trying to play our game.”
Speaking of his success against City he continued: “Against all sides we do variations, so we have different aspects in how we set up.
“Overall the 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99 per cent of the time we are wanting to dominate the game.
“That is always our mentality.
“We know we are going to be playing against Manchester City and we need to be fully focussed not just tactically but technically as well, individually and collectively.
“Pretty much we need to be perfect to get something out of that game.”
City have an injury doubt over top scorer and talisman Sergio Aguero.
However, far from hoping he doesn’t make it Pochettino is hoping he is fit to play.
“I would like to be playing against him,” said Pochettino.
“I think injuries are a very hard process to withstand, it is not easy for any player, and I always want to be facing the best players who are fully fit.
“I hope he is able to play and looking ahead to the World Cup that increases his chances of going to the World Cup.
“I wish that all the players who are injured or coming back from injury are able to be fully fit and do their job.
“It is clear that I do like facing the best players such as Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Luis Suarez, it’s a pleasure to be playing against such quality players and also to be competing and perhaps winning against them.
“It’s clear that Sergio Aguero is at the same level as these other players I have mentioned.
“He is part of this group of elite world class players that I’ve mentioned.
“I’m sure he would make the top 20, 25 or 30 players in the world.”