Manchester City recorded an impressive 3-0 victory over Southampton at St Mary’s stadium, a result that temporarily catapulted them to third on the Premier League table.
Manchester City displayed amazing levels of ferocity as they attacked a relatively clueless Southampton side. Sergio Aguero was on fire throughout the match, and had threatened twice within the opening few minutes itself.
To be fair, both sides struggled to do much after that, and the first half was rather disappointing. Neither goalkeeper was tested much, and it was almost expected to end in a draw. The second half, however, was when Manchester City were in full form and attacked relentlessly.
The Southampton defenders looked on helplessly as Aguero, Sane and Kompany pounded in the goals. This loss will ensure they remain in the 9th position in the league standings.
Let us take a closer look at some of the significant talking points to emerge from the result.
Sergio Aguero truly is Manchester City’s golden boy
This is Sergio Aguero’s sixth season at City, and in five of them, he’s scored 28 goals or more. It’s a sensational record that has earned him the praise he deserves. Very rarely has he ever played in a way that let the team down.
Even in this game, he was at his attacking best, and delivered a beautiful header into the goal. Aguero scored in the 80th minute, right after Leroy Sane. He weaved his way from two defenders and converted a cross by Kevin De Bruyne into a header.
Despite missing seven games through suspension and being dropped for four games for Gabriel Jesus in February, he is still on course to better his best ever return of 32 goals in the 2014-15 season. An unfortunate injury sustained by Jesus gave Aguero another chance, and he has managed to seize that opportunity. With reports emerging of Jesus preparing to make a return, it will be interesting to see how Pep handles the situation, given Aguero’s recent form.
Even Guardiola has acknowledged the improvement in Aguero. At last night’s post-match conference, he actually said that Aguero is finally understanding what City wants out of him. The manager also went on to praise his adaptability and attitude after being dropped for Gabriel Jesus.
The return of Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany scored his first Premier League goal since August 2015, and aided his team in an emphatic win against the Saints. This goal made every City fan remember what the captain can actually bring to the team.
After the first half, it seemed like the match was heading for a goalless draw. City found their mojo in the second half, and Kompany led from the front to break the deadlock as he scored a header.
The intensity with which he celebrated in front of the fans tells a story of its own. Kompany is here to stay, and he is here to make up for all the lost time.
Kompany has been restored to the starting XI after months. He had also missed last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Hull City. A lot of nasty things were said when Pep Guardiola had taken charge of Manchester City, about how there’s a constant rift between the two.
The fact that he was injured for quite some time did not benefit him either. He struggled to fit into Guardiola’s idea of a centre-half. There were also some reports at that time which stated that he will be transferred to another club as soon as possible.
Luckily for City supporters, however, things seem to be taking a positive turn for Kompany. The fact that he has returned to the starting XI and that he opened City’s scoring tally yesterday speaks volumes on how he will be given a lot more chances and opportunities.
Manchester City’s strong attack in the second half
Playing to the strengths of an attacking combination of Leroy Sane, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling is something Guardiola deserves credit for. City have always been strong attackers, and yesterday’s second half proved just that.
All four of them are excelling for the team right now. Leroy Sane and Aguero even chipped in with goals. Sane also tormented Cedric Soares in the first half and after half-time got the goal his performance deserved. The youngster is rapidly becoming a crucial part of City’s increasingly lethal attack.
Raheem Sterling at Manchester City is an entirely different version of what he was at Liverpool. Guardiola has truly transformed the player into a confident and strong midfielder, who can control the attack at any given time. It also helps to have players like Sane, Silva and Aguero as support.
With an attack like this, there was very little Southampton could do to salvage the game.
Did Manchester City deserve a penalty?
The main talking point of an otherwise boring first half came when Leroy Sane was upended in the area by Forster, after latching onto Yaya Toure’s through-ball. However, referee Neil Swarbrick did not deem it necessary to award a penalty. Later, replays indicated that the goalkeeper may first have got a slight touch on the ball.
Toure headed over from the subsequent corner, but neither side was able to register a shot on target before the interval.
The City players and supporters looked increasingly annoyed as the referee awarded a corner rather than pointing to the spot, while Forster escaped more severe punishment despite bringing a goal-scoring opportunity to an end.
Battle for Champions League qualification heats up
Manchester City’s recent defeat at Stamford Bridge to league leaders Chelsea saw Pep Guardiola admit defeat in the race for the coveted Premier League title. However, that still means that they are locked in a battle to finish inside the Champions League places.
After last night’s victory against Southampton, City were in third place with 64 points, but are now down to 4th following Liverpool’s win over West Bromwich Albion. They are still way behind leaders Chelsea (with 75 points) and second-placed Tottenham Hotspur (with 71 points). Meanwhile, Arsenal sits in the 7th position with 54 points.
Although Chelsea and the Spurs are miles ahead of the rest, the battle for the Champions League spots are definitely heating up after 32 weeks of play.