Manchester City extended their winless run to five matches when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The visitors took the lead in the 27th minute when John Stones, playing on the right of a three-man defence, made a mess of a pass to Vincent Kompany and Nathan Redmond was able to nip in and score after rounding Claudio Bravo.
Stones thought he’d atoned for his error a few minutes later when he turned in a free kick at the back post but the goal was disallowed as Sergio Agüero was adjudged to have been in an offside position when the cross came in.
City did get themselves back on level terms 10 minutes into the second half when substitute Kelechi Iheanacho – on for Kevin De Bruyne at half time – turned in Leroy Sané’s cross from close range.
But unfortunately, despite their best efforts, a winning goal wasn’t forthcoming for Pep Guardiola’s men and Southampton were able to hold out for a point which reinstated City to to the top of the Premier League on goal difference. Here’s what James Cunliffe took from a frustrating day at the office.
Shooting ourselves in the foot
After the draw against Southampton – City’s fifth consecutive game without a win – Pep Guardiola ruled out the idea of individual mistakes costing the team points. However, I’d like to challenge that.
During this poor run of form the Blues are suffering from, we have actually put in good performances for the most part. Apart from Sunday’s subdued showing, I don’t think City have deserved what they have got in the past month.
The Aleksandar Kolarov own goal at Spurs, the two saved penalties at Everton, the collection of calamities at Barcelona and John Stones’ untimely back-pass in this match have all set the tone in poor results for Guardiola’s side.
We didn’t fully deserve a win at the Etihad this week but had we not gifted Southampton an easy opener, we probably would have come away with three points. It’s this theme of beating ourselves that has been frustrating me most with the recent City results.
I was in complete disbelief when City were booed off at half-time. Imagine going to a game and booing your own team as a ‘supporter’? Yeah, I can’t either.
The first-half performance was way below standard for the talent that’s been on show this season but booing your own team off is not what City is all about. For a bunch of fans that used to watch Sun Jihai every week, it all seems a bit off.
Obviously this is an opinion aimed at a minority of fellow fans. I just never thought we’d become a set of supporters who boos their team.
We aren’t the white-flag-waving, whistling, ungrateful idiots who watch Real Madrid; we’re Blues, so let’s keep it that way.
The Bravo treatment
Claudio Bravo plays in a foreign way to what the Sky Sports pundits are used to. So much so, that I don’t think he will ever be judged fairly during his tenure as City’s number one.
Only today did Graeme Souness put the blame on the Chilean for a Southampton goal he had no control over. The thought of a keeper not belting it 60 yards up the field as soon as they have the chance baffles those stuck in a Premier league bubble.
Bravo has a certain style and will, rightly, live by that. This is the reason Pep Guardiola opted for the former Barça shot-stopper when he had one of the country’s finest goalkeepers already at his disposal. It is unfair to carry on slamming Bravo’s “risky” performances without giving him the recognition for what he is doing right.
The future of City shaping up
In Leroy Sané, Kelechi Iheanacho and Raheem Sterling, City’s future attacking outlet is already shaping up.
All three are quick, energetic and eager to impress. But the most exciting aspect of watching them is the level of maturity they are showing at this early stage. They have taken responsibility between them to step up when the veterans of the club aren’t putting a full shift in.
This goes for Raheem Sterling in particular who, again today on Sunday, like he did against Celtic and Barcelona recently, has been the outstanding City player in overall poor performances. His desire throughout has matched the high levels he is now playing at.
Written by James Cunliffe
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