Manchester City came away with all three points from St Mary’s after an excellent 3-0 against an inform Southampton team. Goals from Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Gael Clichy sealed the win and City move up to second in the table closing the gap on Chelsea to six points. With 25 games left to play City *may* still have a chance of retaining the title. Here are some thoughts on the game.
A convincing win
This was arguably City’s best performance of the season such was the confidence in which they played. They started on the front foot, attacked Southampton and generally had control of the midfield which proved vital. It’s hard to pick fault with any of the players today but no doubt some will (namely Eliaquim Mangala who was sent off for two bookings…more on that later). If anything, I felt City grew in strength after the red card. They were able to play on the counter attack which led directly to the second and third goals.
Fernandinho was more reminiscent of his old self and was influential in City’s excellence in the middle. City’s midfield has been questionable at various points throughout the season but not today and we have the Brazilian to thank for that. He was quick in closing down the opposition but also quick to move forward and set up attacks. When he is in this type of form City reap the rewards. All the signs today suggest he has overcome his World Cup hangover.
A hard fought win
Playing away against an inform opposition who were unbeaten in six games was always going to be tough but some in game circumstances made the challenge even harder for City. The referee was quite simply awful. Somehow he booked Sergio Aguero for diving when he was clearly fouled inside the penalty area early on and that incident threatened to come back to haunt City. Thankfully, City’s professionalism and quality meant it didn’t but referees performance continued to frustrate. On numerous occasions advantages were given only to be pulled back for no apparent reason. He was also far too trigger happy with bookings when a stern warning could have sufficed in the early stages, in my opinion.
Obviously, City went down to ten men when Mangala received a second booking late on but it is hard to argue against the decision as it was Yaya Toure’s cheap concession of the ball which put Mangala in a no win situation against Shane Long. No doubt Mangala will draw criticism for his dismissal but it worth bearing in mind that he was having a decent game prior to the sending off. One thing is for sure, fans love a scapegoat and Mangala seems to be a target at the moment. But who wants to worry about scapegoating when you have just won 3-0?
It was backs to the wall for City when reduced to ten men but, as a consequence, we were treated to another offside trap master class from Martin Demichelis, who was brought on to cover in defence after the red card. Echoes of Hull away from last season anyone? Worryingly, City finished the game with nine men as Kompany went off injured. All of sudden City’s defensive options look threadbare ahead of our annual 1-0 defeat at Sunderland on Wednesday.
What an addition he has been to the squad this season. As Typical City’s very own David Mooney said after the game he totally gets the love-in that Chelsea fans have with Frank Lampard. Despite his advancing years he is fine passer of the ball and still occupies such dangerous positions in the midfield. The goal was trademark Lampard firing in from the edge of the box. After the match Lampard was coy about the suggestion of extending his loan spell at the club but you will be hard pressed to find any City fan who wants to the see back of him. Quite the cult hero.
Lampard is just fantastic. I totally get the Chelsea love-in of him now. Totally. #mcfc
— David Mooney (@DavidMooney) November 30, 2014
It’s been a rough few months for him but today’s performance was encouraging. Obviously he scored a goal but that aside I thought he was excellent. The full backs are so often rotated it is hard to build up any rhythm but Aleksandar Kolarov’s absence through injury has afforded Clichy the opportunity to find some form and it appears to be paying off. What a finish, by the way.
City seem to have hit a bit of form which is more than welcome but with fixtures against bogey teams Sunderland and Everton in the next week it is worth proceeding with caution.
Written by Rob Toole who is on Twitter