Manchester City face a test of their resolve as they look to pull themselves out of a rare slump at Southampton this weekend.
The defending champions have ceded the initiative to Liverpool in the title race after losing three of their last four Premier League games.
City, who have slipped to third from what appeared a position of dominance a few weeks ago, only lost twice in the whole of last season.
Their most recent defeats have surprisingly come in back-to-back games against Crystal Palace and Leicester in the past week, the first time they have lost two in succession in more than two years.
With a crunch clash against Liverpool coming up at the Etihad Stadium next Thursday, Pep Guardiola’s men can ill afford to drop more points as they travel to St Mary’s on Sunday.
Midfielder Bernardo Silva told City TV: “The last days were not good for us, to lose two games in a row. Especially in this important part of the season, it is never good.
“Now (we have) to check what we have been doing wrong, try to improve those areas and start winning games as fast as possible.
“Seven points starts to be a lot and we have to admit we are not in a good moment and try to come back from that. We need a good reaction from all the lads, that is what we will try to do at Southampton.”
City will hope midfielder Fernandinho will be fit to return, but the Brazilian is again doubtful with a thigh problem. With no natural replacement in the squad, the 33-year-old was badly missed against Palace and Leicester.
Guardiola also has a problem at left-back after Fabian Delph was sent off on Boxing Day and with Benjamin Mendy still out. Oleksandr Zinchenko is likely to be asked to fill in.
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