Manchester City and Southampton shared the spoils at the Etihad Stadium as both teams went in search of a victory to continue their progress up the league table. Pep Guardiola opted with three-at-the-back for City with Vincent Kompany making his first start since April for City.
City are now five without a win in all competitions as a resurgent Southampton team ensured they left the Etihad Stadium with a point to ensure Guardiola’s City remain winless since September. Another couple of points have been dropped at the Etihad for successive weeks as Guardiola comes under intense pressure for his team’s performance once again.
A poor start from City occurred once more as they struggled to obtain a footing in the match during the early stages. Southampton’s pressing and aggression in midfield once again proved the beneficiary for an opposition team at the Etihad once again.
City found it difficult to create space behind the Southampton midfield resulting in the home side achieving limited chances in front of their home crowd.
Nathan Redmond opened the scoring for Southampton after he brilliantly latched onto a loose ball from City defender John Stones. Redmond had the composure to round Bravo and slot home to give the Saint’s the lead and stun the City faithful.
Moments later, Stones was convinced he amended his error when he tapped home and equalizer for City before referee Mark Clattenburg ruled the goal out for an apparent offside by City forward Sergio Aguero.
The half-time whistle couldn’t come quick enough for City as it presented them with the opportunity to restore order and calmness at the break finally. A knock to De Bruyne forced Pep’s hand once again, and he made the change by replacing the Belgian for the Nigerian striker.
Iheanacho’s contribution to the side was pivotal as moments later he leveled proceedings, finishing off a superb passage of play that ultimately undone the Southampton defence. A pin-point pass from Fernandinho set Leroy Sané free before his pass across the box found Iheanacho who comfortably stroke home past Forster in the Southampton goal.
With 35 minutes remaining, City didn’t come close once. Half chances from Aguero and Silva, in particular, were the closest City came as a determined Saint’s side held firm. In fact, Southampton could have won the contest if Charlie Austin had fired a shot either side of Claudio Bravo with just minutes to go. The England forward found space on the edge of the box before firing straight at Bravo.
1-1. Two more points dropped. Major questions to be answered but City remain top of the pile.
- Claudio Bravo 8/10 – He’s been heavily criticized today, but Bravo was solid today. Disruption was impeccable, and so was he when called upon.
- John Stones 5/10 – Not his worst game in a City shirt but he cost City a goal with his poor back-pass.
- Vincent Kompany 6/10 – Great to see the skipper back. A Little bit off the pace but barely put a foot wrong.
- Aleksandr Kolarov 5/10 – Death, taxes and a 79-yard attempt at goal that ends up in row z. Not bad defensively but offensively very sub-standard.
- Fernandinho 7/10 – Mr. consistency. Beautiful ball to play Sané in for the goal and an all-around solid performance, again.
- Ilkay Gundogan 5/10 – Poor today by Gundogan. Too sloppy in possession and played it too simple instead of trying to create much
- David Silva 6/10 – Failed to unlock the door today and always slipping. He struggled to keep Romeu off his back.
- Kevin De Bruyne 4/10 – anonymous during the first half but played in a brilliant ball for Stones’ goal – that was disallowed.
- Raheem Sterling 6/10 – Zero contribution in the first-half but by far City’s biggest threat in the second half.
- Leroy Sané 7/10 – He’s still finding his feet, but he needs to pass a little better. Played better when on the left-wing but the German is all left foot.
- Kelechi Iheancho 8/10 – City’s saviour, in the end, Iheanacho was far better after a poor performance last weekend. Great goal and often tried to open up the Southampton defence.
- Sergio Aguero 5/10 – As a team-mate, Aguero was great today as he never stopped running and trying to close down the opposition. As a deadly forward, weak. One-half chance is all he could muster.