What a tale of two halves, eh? The way the first half was going I was hoping that City could at least survive a draw as Southampton looked likely to grab more than just one.
City went up 1-0 early, after a lazy tackle by Fonte sent Dzeko to the pitch and Chris Foy awarded City with a penalty kick. But it was at that point that Southampton’s potent attack woke up and took the game to City. The Saint’s bossed the midfield, much like City do to opponents, causing the usually calm City players to send errant passes to one another. Southampton had numerous chances to grab an equalizer, but the City defense stood as strong as they could to deny them those chances. The pressure finally got to the back four as Zabaleta fouled Jack Cork in a similar position to Dzeko and won a penalty for the Saints. Ricky Lambert stepped up and bulleted the Saints back even with City.
As the first half wound down, I hoped City would finish it out and head to the locker room level to regroup. But, the Citizen’s had other ideas as two quick goals from the Blues put the half time score at 3-1. What a finish to the half. The first goal will be scrutinized as Silva, who was the assistor, was yards off sides, but the flag stayed down. With that aside, the buildup play to that goal was marvelous as Dzeko played a non-Dzeko like back pass to Silva who found the cutting Nasri. Less than a minute later Kolarov streaked down the left wing and sent a one-time rocket across the box, which found Dzeko who finally got a goal! A half time talk that looked to emphasize inspiration quickly turned into a lecture on how to defend this tough Southampton side.
The second half was essentially even as both teams had spells of heavy possession but a late goal by Jovetic sent City up 4-1, which will be important come the end of the season. Not only the goal differential, but Jovetic as well; if he can stay healthy, he will be huge for our final run of games. Sounds like a broken record, right?
In a tough matchup against a side like Southampton who have impressed with their play this year, this match could have gone in any direction. With City needing to win out to become league champions, this game looked to be one of the trickier ones in the later stages of the season. With the early goal it seemed that City would put away this game by the end of the half (which happened, but didn’t look it). That, of course, was ignorant of me. It was situations like those 30-plus minutes where the Saints dominated City that can really frustrate supporters. With so much class, we tend to take it down a gear or two in certain situations and look unlikely to do anything in attack. With that said, City showed their class with one quick attack and we went up 2-1. Then, 3-1. Making people quickly forget the frustration of having to watch the lethargic City.
Silva is the obvious choice for Man of the Match, for me, as he was a vital part of each of our attacks. His influence is becoming more and more apparent. The matchup of the season is coming up next weekend against Liverpool. It’ll be tense and hopefully my heart can make it through!
Dzeko (6.5) – Lively start for him, wins the PK for our first goal. This has been one of his best all-around efforts this season, and glad to see him get a goal after much frustration trying to get onto the score sheet. But he still has that love of missing really good chances in hilarious fashion.
Silva (8 MotM) – He has been immense in the last run of games; his passing, movement and ball control leads every one of City’s attacks. He was definitely off sides on the second goal, but he continued to play and picked a perfectly weighted pass to Nasri for the second goal. His pressure on the Southampton when they were in their own half was something that kept the fluid Saints honest in possession.
Nasri (6) – Before and after the goal this was one of the quieter games from Nasri, but it’s hard to be noticed when you’re getting over shadowed by the prettier girl in school (A.K.A Silva).
Navas (6) – With City having less of the ball during the first half, his usual speedy runs down the right were few and far between. When he had his chances to play a cross in, they left a lot to be desired. The second half was a more open affair, and allowed his pace to be a big factor for City in attack. His work rate in the midfield and defense is spectacular and small things like that can win you the league.
Yaya (6) –Vey active in the attacking third, but gave the ball away easily, at times, in the midfield that gave the Saints valuable possession.
Fernandinho (5) – Doing well to track back when Pablo pushes forward in attack. But, he really didn’t have his usual effect on the game as he has in the past.
Kolarov (7) – I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again; he could kill someone with the rockets that come off that left leg. That one time cross for Dzeko’s goal was incredible not only in pace, but placement as well.
Kompany (7) – He has been in the right place at the right time today. With Southampton constantly getting forward with pace, the captain has intervened on many of the Saints over the top passes.
Demichelis (6) – Continues to read the game well, intercepting passes whether that is in an aerial battle or a sliding tackle to knick the ball away from the attacking player.
Zabaleta (6) – The usual Pablo game, but very disappointed in the penalty he gave Southampton. A player of his experience shouldn’t make lazy challenges like that around the box area. But, that’s me being overly critical of one of our most consistent players. I still love you, Pablo.
Hart (6) – The Pantilimon over Hart episode really woke him up and showed that his position as “Sure fired #1” wasn’t so etched in stone. Since that period he has been a more confident keeper; coming to claim the balls in no mans land, and show his class as a keeper.
Garcia (6) – He allows Yaya to push forward, as he sures up the defensive midfield area. He may throw in an awkward tackle here and there, but he does what is asked of him in the midfield.
Negredo – Beast, where have you gone?
Jovetic - <3