And as soon as you thought we might have been close to figuring it out, we show how tough it can be to win on the road in the EPL.
We got the first goal, and that was the type of start (like the one against West Brom) we needed on the road, especially when facing such a tricky team like Southampton. I was hoping that that early goal would act as a launching pad to more goals and potential victory. Of course, I was being optimistic. Sadly, once Aguero scored, the game opened up and Southampton kicked into action; and boy did they ever! Our conservative away form continued and Southampton, who likes to pressure you and play with tempo, took advantage of our affinity to sit back.
It was inevitable that Southampton would get a goal; it was really just a question of how many they would get. Up until the goal, City’s defense did their best to survive, and I emphasize SURVIVE, each attack from the Saints. It took a beautiful one-man effort for Saints to get the equalizer, but it was in the cards. We sat back and looked to counter attack when the Saints sent plenty of players forward. As one of the best counter attacking sides in the league, we had our golden opportunities to get another against the run of play, but chances for Aguero and Nasri went astray. It would have been nice to go into the locker room without conceding a goal, but that wasn’t to be.
Coming out for the second half it looked as if City had figured it out, and were on the precipice of getting a second goal. But, Southampton’s on ball pressure continued to give us trouble, and quickly ended our bossing of second half possession. I would like to say the game evened out, but Southampton continued to look like the side more likely to grab a late winner, if there were to be one. Every time City looked to be heading for a chance at goal, Southampton showed their strength and stepped in to halt the attack. The faces of both milner and Negredo, as the announcers noted, said it all about their performance. They looked confused and
Aggravated by how the game played out.
Pellegrini’s conservative away selections have raised many eyebrows, and for good reason. His strategy has yet to really work in his favor, and I would like to see him keep an in-form lineup, especially against tough teams like Southampton. As "throw in the towel" as it sounds, a point is a point so ill take it. We have two tough tests, even though Bayern will be less of a test with both teams having qualified, it still won't be taken lightly. But, four days later we take on league leaders, Arsenal, at home. I am hoping for a strong showing from City in such an important game.
Aguero (6) – After his goal, he wasn’t able to get back into the game as Southampton hogged the possession. You could see his frustration in the dying minutes of the game when he was awarded a yellow card for throwing the ball (I believe).
Negredo (5) – Bullying defenders on aerial attempts giving the team a great target up top. But, after we went up a goal he disappeared for the rest of his time in the game, which has not been the case this season.
Nasri (5) – Uninvolved for most of the match, which was not what we have come use to from him this season. When he tried to push forward, Southampton immediately dealt with his efforts.
Milner (5) – Worked hard in the midfield, but wasn’t able to put any pressure on the Southampton back line. Wasn’t much of a factor.
Yaya (6) – Picking out great passes from a further back position in midfield, but in the second half he was a completely different player. He was beat while defending, almost leading to goals for Southampton.
Fernandinho (6) – Strong in defense, and tried to push forward in the second half, to put pressure on Southampton. Obviously, he was unsuccessful.
Kolarov (5) – Well timed runs down the left, once of which led to a goal. But after the assist his impact tapered off a bit, and had fewer chances to affect the game.
Kompany (6) –Another game of solid game reading and defending, but once the game sped up he got beat a few times (which happens). He is always a safety valve for other players to go and take chance at a tackle, since they know he will most likely be there.
Demichelis (5) – He reads the game well, but he can be over aggressive, leading to missed tackles and positional mistakes that gave the Saints great opportunities to score. He is also a bit of a nightmare with possession.
Zabaleta (5) – Wasn’t as involved on the wing as he has been in the past. He was beat a few times, and was lucky to not get a card for the blatant block in the midfield.
Pantilimon (6) – Continues to earn the praise he has been getting, but wasn’t truly tested with tough saves. His only hiccup was not coming for a cross that could have easily ended in a goal for the Saints.
Garcia (6) – In terms of subs, Garcia was the most effective of the three and did his job of adding protection in the midfield.
Navas (5) – His pace had no effect on proceedings as Southampton’s strength and fitness stopped Navas from beating them.
Dzeko (5) – He had his opportunities, but wasn’t able to get a goal on the board.