Manchester City’s stuttering form continued as
Southampton held on for a 1-1 draw at the Etihad
Stadium this afternoon.
Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho equalised for the
hosts after a mistake by John Stones gifted Saints’
Nathan Redmond the opening goal.
The result left City without a win in five games,
equalling the worst run of Pep Guardiola’s
managerial career, and while they returned to the
top of the Premier League, it is only on goal
difference from Arsenal and Liverpool.
City could feel hard done to after dominating
possession, particularly in the second half, and
having a Stones goal controversially ruled out for
Yet after opening the season with 10 successive
wins, the intensity does seem to have dropped
After Wednesday’s heavy loss at Barcelona, there
was a feeling City needed to make a statement but
that did not happen and they could not rouse
themselves enough after a subdued first-half
Sergio Aguero was restored to the front line after
his surprise omission in midweek – and some
subsequent speculation about his future – while
fit-again captain Vincent Kompany made his first
league start since April.
City struggled to get going, with promising runs
from Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane all
coming to nothing.
Fernandinho did whip in a good cross from the
right but Sterling was unable to get on the end of
Aleksandar Kolarov delivered a superb through ball
for Kevin De Bruyne but the Belgian, mostly
operating behind Aguero but sometimes drifting
left, got the ball stuck under his feet.
City’s lack of cutting edge certainly suited
Southampton, who struggled to gain any
When they took the lead it came after a glaring
error by Stones, who did not look up as he passed
the ball back into the area in the 27th minute.
Kompany was not on his wavelength and Redmond
pounced, taking the ball wide of Claudio Bravo and
The look on Stones’ face made clear the horror of
his error, which will bring into further focus
Guardiola’s determination to play out from the back
at seemingly all costs.
Stones picked himself up and thought he had
made quick amends as he raced in at the far post
to tuck home a De Bruyne free-kick. He celebrated
what he assumed was the equaliser with gusto but
a flag had been raised for what appeared to be
offside against Aguero.
The frustration continued for City as Ilkay
Gundogan drove wide but the introduction of
Iheanacho at half-time brought a change in shape,
intensity and atmosphere.
Sterling was enlivened and curled a dangerous ball
through the box before City claimed their equaliser
after 55 minutes.
Fernandinho picked out Sane with a brilliant
crossfield ball and his low cross was neatly tucked
in by Iheanacho.
From then on it mainly became a case of
Southampton digging in and looking to protect
what they had, although Bravo was called upon to
make one save from a Charlie Austin drive.
Fraser Forster kept Southampton level by palming
away a Gundogan effort before saving Davod
Silva’s long-range strike.
Aguero threatened with a strong run but was
forced wide by Virgil van Dijk and shot across the
face of goal.
Jesus Navas was sent on for Kompany late on to
provide further attacking impetus but to no avail.