Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola fumed at a question about Southampton’s leaky defence before their Premier League meeting on Wednesday, saying it will be an “incredible success” to beat them following a derby defeat by Manchester United.

Southampton went nine league games without victory before last Saturday’s 2-0 win at Sheffield United. During that dismal run they were hammered 9-0 by Manchester United and Guardiola was asked about the Saints’ back line.

“We’ll score 18. This will be the result. What a question. They conceded nine when they played 80 minutes (with) 10 (men) against 11,” Guardiola, whose side were beaten 2-0 by United on Sunday, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Do you think this is a joke and we’ll score 18 goals? It’ll be an incredible success for us to win this game, that’s all.”

Defeat by second-placed Manchester United ended leaders City’s 21-match unbeaten run in all competitions but Guardiola said his players had overcome the disappointment.

“… The second day was better, today completely on fire. It’s a common reaction,” the Spaniard said. “Everyone realised how difficult it is to win good games, to do a good run… now we focus on the next one.

“It’s not a bad moment. A bad moment is playing bad and not getting results in a lot of games. We’re close – every team is fighting for something. We’re seeing how tough the games are. Tomorrow will not be an exception.

“There’s still a lot of work to do to arrive in the last games in contention to win the league. We’re alive in all competitions. It doesn’t matter what happens tomorrow – of course we want to win – but there are still many games.”

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