BOSS Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted Saints would need “a very good performance” to produce a positive result against Manchester City but added: “This is why you are in the Premier League.”

City head to St Mary’s on Saturday (5.30pm) off the back of a 12-game winning run in the division.

Pep Guardiola’s side are currently clear by 11 points at the league summit, ahead of Liverpool.

Saints did seal a goalless draw at the Etihad back in September but Hasenhuttl insisted the runaway leaders would be heading to the south coast on different terms this time round.

Asked about facing up to the defending top-flight champions, the Austrian said: “We have shown a good performance in the first game this season but their situation is different now I think.

“They had the whole week to prepare for this game. They have no game during the week.

“Next week they have no game so they will come with the best possible squad and have time to prepare for us and I'm sure Pep will take this game very seriously.

“Even though he has a big lead at the moment in the league, with an amazing run of winning games that shows how consistent they are, how good they are, how fantastic the job is what they are doing at the moment.

“Even in the COVID situation, always playing their games and for me the best team in the league not only because of the points they have.

“It is one of the biggest challenges we have every year but also one of the challenges I like the most because this is why you are in the Premier League, why you want to play these games and face these teams because of development.

“We have learned a lot from the games against him and yes we will need a very good performance to get a chance to get something."

Saints come into the contest 12th in the division, with 24 points from 21 league games played.