City draws away from home in a tough game
Manchester City faced a very difficult match against Southampton, a game in which they were unable to win.
After overcoming multiple injuries and Covid's contagions it is true that the concern felt in past games about the lineup disappeared completely.
Although there were still some absences, the reality is that the team was able to present one of its best lineups in a long time, with the starting defense back, with the midfield led by Rodri (who has been our best player this season), and with a great offensive trident formed by Sterling, Foden and Grealish.
Going into the analysis of the game, I have to say that although a priori it seemed that he would play as a false 9, Foden was moved to the left-wing while Grealish was positioned in the center, where he was quite involved.
And I completely understand that many of the fans are not happy with his offensive performance, but the truth is that his games are not bad either, he is almost always recovering balls, distracting the defense, or even helping the midfielders to have a good distribution of the ball.
Changing the subject a bit, something I love and find interesting is Bernardo's ability to understand the games, his teammates, and the spaces they create.
As I said before, for many moments Grealish moved more to a midfield position, perhaps because of a need to play the ball more and feel more confident or because of a technical decision, but this left an empty space in the false 9 position, which Bernardo used very well to constantly step into the box.
Having said that, the game was quite complicated for our team, not only because of the large number of imprecisions during the first half but also because the opponents set up a game that made us feel uncomfortable and they succeeded in doing so.
For many moments they played physically, perhaps with the intention of provoking a yellow card or perhaps with the purpose of getting on the nerves of more than one player, but the reality is that there were few City players who had a good first half.
For the second half, although our team did not change in terms of players, it did change tactically, as it moved the team forward, positioned the central defenders more in the midfield, which locked up the opponent. In addition, he returned to the usual triangle with Walker Rodri and Cancelo in midfield, filling the remaining players with balls, who were now stepping into the box more frequently.
In addition to this, the team began to put more pressure on the opponents, making them uncomfortable at the start and making them lose the ball almost immediately.
Now, just as I always highlight the negative aspect of Pep's late substitutions, I feel the need to also highlight cases like today's, where he made substitutions early in the game in order to get back on track and improve the team's performance a little, which was good for us.
Finally, I would like to mention two negative points of the match, the first one is Raheem. During the past games, I have not stopped saying how good he is and how essential he was becoming for the team, but the reality is that he is a very irregular player, that if one day he can be inspired, the other day he can miss a clear goal scoring chance, and that in games like today's costs us points.
The second point to highlight here was the referee, who to be honest was very bad, he didn't give us a penalty and didn't send off a Southampton player after a foul on Laporte. This is not the first time that we have been wronged by the refereeing and it doesn't seem to be the last, something should be done about it.
The match was marked by 3 important moments.
- 38' Sterling's miss: This was a key moment because we were down by a goal and could have equalized earlier, besides, this kind of chances cannot be forgiven today or ever.
- 53' Block by Laporte: Shortly after the start of the second half Laporte was alert and blocked a great counterattack that could have meant a second goal for the home side. This action kept us in the match.
- 65' Laporte's goal: The Spanish player had an incredible afternoon, but one of the highlights was that he scored the equalizer.
Players of the Match
As it is evident from the previous part, this section could not start in any other way than highlighting the incredible game played by Aymeric, not only because of the goal and the block but also because he has become an extremely reliable central defender.
On the other hand, it is also necessary to mention Rodri, a player who for me has been undoubtedly the best of the season. The guy was attentive all the time and stopped many counterattacks that looked dangerous, so without him, we probably would have been losing.
Finally, I'd like to highlight two players who, while they didn't have a completely brilliant whole game, did contribute to the result, and I'm referring to Kevin de Bruyne and Grealish.
Jack had a great first half, he created spaces, distracted the defense, made good passes, and was very participative. On the other hand, Kevin was in charge of providing the assist during the second half and helped the team to organize itself better.
· Laporte spoke about the team's good performance despite the difficult match. "We played really well and maybe deserved more. But if we don't score more than one, it's very difficult. They have good players and the pitch is small, so it is a little bit more difficult. I would like to win three points tonight but they played very good..." [via @ManCity]
· He also emphasized that the team deserved more, but unfortunately it did not happen. "We played very well also. Sometimes you win when you don't deserve it and tonight we got a point when we maybe deserved a little bit more." [via @ManCity]
· Finally, our coach talked about the next game. "We have two weeks to prepare for the next game. People will say the #PL title race is not over and that is good for this side. We have many tough games ahead of us, but we will try to behave until the end." [via @ManCity]
Manchester City will face Fulham on February 5.