Manchester City’s 12 match winning run ended on the south coast as they came from behind to draw at Southampton. Aymeric Laporte’s second half header secured a point for City after Kyle Walker-Peters had given the Saints a first half lead.
City already have a formidable lead at the top of the table, but at some point, they faithful knew they would drop points. And Southampton was the place where the blues incredible winning run came to an end in a match they were unlucky not to win, but also fortunate not to lose.
After impressive wins at Arsenal and at home to Chelsea, the blues were looking for a further three points that would send them into the winter break even further clear, leaving the destination of the title firmly in their own hands.
However, they faced a Southampton side that, despite losing two matches 9-0 in successive seasons, have only lost one game at St Mary’s this season. That defeat by Wolves in September was the catalyst for a seven-match unbeaten home run, now extended to eight, and this campaign has seen the Saints take points off United, West Ham, Leicester and Spurs, and have still to welcome Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal to their stadium.
And Southampton became the first side to face City twice this season and come away from both matches unbeaten. The latest point on Saturday evening was earned with a combination of strength going forward and gritty defending at the back, which served to frustrate the blues, although the first half for City could be one that the faithful will be eager to forget.
Neither side had had a clear sight of goal in the opening stages, and there seemed little chance of a goal when Walker-Peters collected the ball inside the penalty area. Faced with two City defenders in front of him, Walker-Peters found a gap between the pair to curl a brilliant shot with the outside of his right foot, which bent past Ederson and into the back of the goal.
City rode their luck a little with Saints looking dangerous on every foray forward. City were fortunate when Southampton had a goal disallowed in the 23rd minute. Oriol Romeu’s through ball released Armando Broja, and the latter finished well, but was deemed offside.
The blues had been pressing for an equaliser, but were faced with a wall of red and white that were doing everything to keep the final ball from reaching a man in blue
Raheem Sterling created a chance for himself, cutting inside from the right before curling his shot beyond the goal, before missing a glorious chance to equalise. Phil Foden had done extremely well to get to get in behind the Saints defence and pull the ball across for Sterling, completely unmarked and just six yards from goal.
It seemed for all the world he would level, but his tame first-time shot was saved by the legs of Forster. Such was the space Sterling was afforced, he could have taken a touch to control and wait for the keeper to commit before hammering home, but the winger hurried his shot, and the chance went begging.
It wasn’t the first time the blues went in a goal down at half-time, but the second half began with Saints again on the front foot. The home side hit the post and City were thankful that the rebound was fired high and wide to keep them in the game.
City stepped it up after that and began to create more chances. Rodri saw his half-volley turned away by Forster and later fired narrowly over the bar. The travelling army behind the goal could sense and equaliser, and in the 65th minute, it arrived through the head of Laporte.
A free kick to City was curled in by Kevin de Bruyne’s cross and Laporte timed his run to perfection to meet the cross, having been allowed the freedom of the Saints defence, to head home. Saints were appealing for offside before the Spanish defender had even touched the ball, but VAR had no issue and the goal stood.
The blues then went in search of the winning goal that would send them fourteen points clear. De Bruyne’s wicked shot from outside the area thumped against the outside of the post and the Belgian was later brought down with a clumsy challenge. City appealed for a penalty and VAR, as usual, took an age to review the footage, before deciding the challenge was a foul outside the area.
Substitute Gabriel Jesus hit the post in the closing stages, but Southampton survived the onslaught to claim a precious, but well-deserved point.
The draw meant manager Pep Guardiola becomes the fastest Premier League manager to hit 500 points, breaking Jose Mourinho’s record of 231 matches.
The blues next match is their FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Fulham on 5th February, before they welcome new boys Brentford to Manchester four days later.
Final Score: Southampton 1-1 Manchester City