Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne were the only positives as Manchester City played out a 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday.
Manchester City started the game on the front foot, but Southampton broke the deadlock against the run of play. After winning the ball from Sterling inside their defensive third, the Saints built up play beautifully before Nathan Redmond found Kyle Walker-Peters, who produced a brilliant shot to break the deadlock.
After that, Manchester City continued to see the bulk of the possession, but Southampton had their visitors on the ropes each time they embarked on blistering counter-attacks. And despite their dominance, Manchester City managed just one shot on target in the first half, which was a tame effort by Raheem Sterling saved easily by Fraser Forster.
The same story ensued after the interval, with chances coming few and far between until the 65th minute, when Aymeric Laporte connected with Kevin De Bruyne’s indirect free-kick to make it 1-1. The goal allowed Manchester City to express themselves better, but the match-winning goal eluded them.
In the end, Southampton managed to hold on to ensure a share of the spoils, with Manchester City dropping points for the first time in 13 Premier League games. The result might not peg the Citizens back by much, even though Liverpool could reduce the gap to them to nine points when they face Crystal Palace on Sunday. The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Pep Guardiola’s men.
Ederson Moraes: 6/10
There was nothing that Ederson could have done to deny Kyle Walker-Peters in the first half, but he did well to deny Armando Broja in the second big chance of the game for Southampton. As always, the Manchester City no. 1 completed most of his attempted passes.
Kyle Walker: 6/10
Apart from one moment when he lost a foot race with Armando Broja leading up to a cancelled goal for the Chelsea loanee, Walker was not troubled much off the ball. But the Englishman was wasteful with the ball at his feet, losing possession 19 times while hardly posing a threat during his forays down the right flank.
Ruben Dias: 6/10
Southampton only threatened sporadically, meaning Dias did not have much defending to do apart from those odd moments. The Manchester City skipper organised the backline smartly while playing the ball out from the back efficiently, completing 94 per cent of his attempted passes.
Aymeric Laporte: 7/10
⛔️ Big block at one end…
⚽️ Goalscorer at the other!
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) January 22, 2022
Laporte should have done better to close down Walker-Peters for the opener, but he cannot be blamed too much for that moment. Otherwise, the Spanish international was largely solid in his defensive duties, completing four tackles while winning ten duels and making a big block on Jan Bednarek. More importantly, Laporte popped up in the right place at the right time to head in Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick to salvage a point for Manchester City.
Joao Cancelo: 6/10
Nathan Redmond played all around Cancelo in the build-up to the Southampton goal, but that was the Portuguese defender’s only blemish. The player saw plenty of the ball and played two key passes while also winning eight duels. But some of his passes were aimless, and he should have done better in those moments.
Bernardo Silva: 5/10
Bernardo Silva has been one of the most in-form players this season for Manchester City. But for a second successive game, the Portuguese international was not on point with his performance. While he technically played five key passes, he could never carve out the clear-cut openings.
With Manchester City dominating possession, Rodri largely had to concentrate on setting a quick tempo during his team’s build-up moves. The Spaniard opened up play nicely with some long balls while also retaining a healthy 91 per cent passing rate. And when called into action, he completed some important tackles (two) and interceptions (two). He also came close to scoring, smashing the woodwork.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7/10
It was a game of two halves for De Bruyne, who was largely anonymous in the first half but came to life after the break. Most of Manchester City’s moves in the second period went through De Bruyne, and it was his indirect free-kick that Laporte converted. And he came the closest to scoring for Manchester City from open play. The Belgian playmaker is back to being his team’s best player.
80 – Kevin De Bruyne has now assisted as many Premier League goals as David Beckham (80), but the Belgian has done so having made 68 fewer appearances in the competition. Maestro. pic.twitter.com/kW5nzPKC5C
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 22, 2022
Raheem Sterling: 4/10
After being delightful against Chelsea, big things were expected from Sterling. But the Englishman endured a nightmarish first half as he lost the ball to initiate the move that led to the opener before failing to convert a glorious opportunity. Things did not improve much at the onset of the second period, and he was rightly taken off at the hour mark.
Phil Foden: 5/10
Foden struggled to get into the game in the first half but was heavily involved after the interval. That being said, the English international created the best chance of the first half for Sterling, only for his compatriot to make a meal of it. But some moments of sloppiness spoiled things massively for Foden, who lost possession 19 times.
Jack Grealish: 5/10
Grealish was surprisingly picked on the left flank despite a poor performance against Chelsea. And while he did improve here, the Englishman still has a long way to go before he can become a key contributor for Manchester City. The former Aston Villa captain unleashed some dangerous runs but also lacked ideas to make things happen. He needs to step up.
Gabriel Jesus: 6/10
Introduced in place of Sterling with half an hour left, Jesus was a major upgrade on the English international. The Brazilian forward was a bundle of energy and put in the hard yards on and off the ball, although he could only hit the woodwork with his only shot.