Manchester City overcame consecutive defeats with a convincing 3-1 win at Southampton helping them close the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to seven points before the mid-week clash between the top two ranked sides.
A James Ward-Prowse own goal in the final minute before half-time and a Sergio Aguero header in added time secured the victory for the reigning champions after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had cancelled out David Silva’s 10th-minute opener. Southampton remained in the 17th position with 15 points from 20 games.
Heading to the year-end on the back of shock defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester, City needed to a big win before their big clash against the Reds and Pep Guardiola’s boys did it in some fashion. They started well and were nearly ahead five minutes later when Raheem Sterling found Silva after foxing Jack Stephens on the right wing. But the Spaniard was denied by a brilliant save from Alex McCarthy.
Charlie Austin then should have put Southampton ahead but miscontrolled the ball after bring put through on goal and City made them pay immediately from the next move.
Riyad Mahrez came close to adding a second minutes later after advancing into the Southampton box from his own half but his shot missed the target narrowly. City racked up the chances with their full-backs flooding crosses from both the flanks.
But their profligacy allowed Southampton a way back and Austin nearly put them level with a powerful header but Ederson kept it out.
Southampton though were not to be denied a goal and they equalised through Hojbjerg after he had intercepted Oleksandr Zinchenko in the City half. The Danish advanced into the City box before rifling a bullet into the net.
Wad-Prowse then deflected a Sterling cut-back into his own net to give City the lead and Aguero planted a header right through the middle as City went into the break 3-1 up.
Southampton goalkeeper McCarthy then avoided the home side more blush by putting up fine saves off the City front three, while their goalscorer Hojbjerg was sent off for a rash tackle on Fernandinho.