Manchester City bounced back from two consecutive defeats to beat Southampton 3-1 on Sunday and cut the gap on English Premier League leaders Liverpool to seven points.
It was a fitting result for the defending champions before the top two meet on Thursday.
Pep Guardiola’s side needed to regain their footing after stumbling against Crystal Palace and Leicester.
They did so with strikes from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and James Ward-Prowse’s own goal at St. Mary’s.
Charlie Austin should have put Southampton ahead but miscontrolled the ball after being played in on goal and Manchester City immediately took advantage.
Bernardo Silva teed up David Silva to slot home unmarked in the 10th minute.
Alex McCarthy made a good save to keep out Aguero from point-blank range after good work by Sterling and Manchester City were soon made to pay for their profligacy.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg slammed home after robbing Oleksandr Zinchenko of the ball.
Manchester City regained the lead when Sterling’s cut-back deflected against Ward-Prowse and in after 45 minutes.
Aguero then headed home another from Zinchenko’s cross in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.
McCarthy made good saves to deny Sterling and Mahrez after the break, while Aguero hit the crossbar and Hojbjerg was sent off for a rash tackle on Fernandinho.
Defeat left Southampton 17th in the table on 15 points, the same as 18th-placed Burnley, who beat West Ham United 2-0 on Sunday.