Manchester City travelled to St. Mary’s in the late kick off in the Premier League for another vital Premier League contest, and what followed was another great performance in this magnificent run of form from Pep Guardiola’s men.
We’ll take a look at the Southampton game, and also focus on the upcoming Champions League Quarter Final first leg at home to Bayern Munich mid week.
Manchester City 4 Southampton 1
Manchester City entered the game at St. Mary’s with the opportunity to cut Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table to 5 points, with Arsenal travelling to Anfield on Sunday.
Guardiola picked his strongest available line up and Erling Haaland returned from injury after missing the 4-1 win over Liverpool. City lined up as followed-
Ederson, Ake, Akanji, Dias, Stones Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Grealish, Mahrez & the returning Erling Haaland leading the line.
The game began with Manchester City dominating possession, mainly at the back with Southampton forcing City to maintain possession deep in their own half.
City carved out a great opportunity in the 5th minute for Jack Grealish following City playing through the Southampton press, and Gundogan finding Grealish who had his shot saved by former City player Gavin Bazuna.
Ilkay Gundogan had a shot blocked from a corner moments later, then the chances dried up. Southampton posed a threat to City on the counter with their pace, with a counter off a poor Riyad Mahrez pass from the resulting corner from Gundogan’s blocked shot pounced upon by the speedy Kamaldeen Suleman but his attack was dealt with by the combination of Nathan Ake and a oncoming Ederson to snuff out the chance.
The threat of Southampton’s pace on the break was ever present through out a tough first half against a spirited Southampton outfit.
City’s next big chance fell to Erling Haaland in the 40th minute, the Norwegian heading just wide off a deflected Kevin De Bruyne cross. A warning for Southampton there which would pay dividends minutes later.
The opening goal came from a sumptuous Kevin De Bruyne cross, which Haaland duly nodded in to give City a hard fought lead. The assist was De Bruyne’s 100th in the Premier League, a massive moment for the Manchester City legend. After a tough first half City went into the break with the lead up 1 nil.
The second half was a completely different story to the first. City came out and went for Southampton, with a good chance for Gundogan going just wide in the 50th minute.
A second goal was needed to put the plucky Saints away and it came in the 58th minute through Jack Grealish. Grealish was played through by a fantastic through ball from Kevin De Bruyne, Grealish first effort was saved by Bazuna, but Grealish lashed home the rebound to make it 2 nil to City.
City pressed on after the second goal looking to kill off the game and sew up three points, and the third goal came in spectacular fashion from Erling Haaland in the 68th minute.
Jack Grealish set off down the left and played a great ball across, and Haaland duly put it away with a breathtaking finish. Words don’t do the goal justice or Haaland’s finish, but it will surely be a goal of the season contender.
Southampton pulled a goal back 4 minutes later through Sekou Mara after a mazy and mesmerising run from Moussa Djenepo, giving Saints fans faint hope of a comeback.
Any thoughts of a Southampton come back were snuffed out barely 3 minutes later with Julian Alvarez tucking away a penalty after coming on for Haaland after De Bruyne was hacked down in the box. The rest of the game played out and City went home from St. Mary’s with a emphatic 4-1 win.
Man of the Match
Jack Grealish was my man of the match. He was absolutely fantastic again, continuing his magnificent form post the World Cup. Jack is now one of City’s most important players on the run home, and another goal and a assist were great rewards for Jack’s outstanding performance.
Up next- Bayern Munich
Manchester City are in fantastic form heading into a massive game against Bayern Munich at the Etihad in the Champions League Quarter Final first leg.
Now the fun in the Champions League really begins, against a opponent who is among European football’s supposed “royalty” and who at times have fired barbs City’s way since Sheikh Mansour’s take over. The crowd at the Etihad will be electric, and the game itself looks a mouth watering contest.
Bayern aren’t the same Bayern Munich as seasons past when looking at their recent form. They come into this game off the back of a 1 nil win over SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga.
They also bring a familiar foe in their new manager in Thomas Tuchel after the surprise sacking of Julian Nagelsmann only a short time ago. But Bayern will be a dangerous opponent with their pedigree in this competition and coming off a second round tie win over PSG to get to the Quarter Final stage.
For me this is the acid test in this season’s Champions League campaign for City. The opportunity is there to set the tone of the tie at home in the first leg, and get after Bayern Munich early on.
I do feel this Bayern side is there for the taking if we continue our magnificent recent form of late. This does feel like the season Manchester City can finally achieve Champions League glory, and this moment against Bayern must be seized upon by Pep Guardiola’s men.
I won’t make any predictions on the game other then to say I’m counting the hours until kick off. It’s the best time of the season so bring on another epic Champions League night at the Etihad.