Southampton 1-1 Manchester City : 5 Talking Points as the Saints take the game to City in a thrilling draw at St. Mary's | Premier League 2021-22

Aymeric Laporte's header saved the blushes for Manchester City away from home.
Aymeric Laporte's header saved the blushes for Manchester City away from home.
Gunjan Kochrekar

It was nothing less than a league double as Southampton managed a hard-earned draw against Premier League leaders Manchester City. A maiden Premier League goal from full-back Kyle Walker-Peters was canceled out by Aymeric Laporte from the other end. The Spaniard's header made sure City extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 13 matches.

8️⃣ unbeaten at St Mary's 👊Read about another gutsy #SaintsFC display, as #ManCity's 12-match winning run came to an end:

The Saints dominated the first few minutes of play, backed by their brilliant home form this season. They successfully escaped City's high-press multiple times to put their forwards in great position to cause danger to the high-profile visitors.

One such counter-attacking scenario ended with full-back Kyle Walker-Peters making an underlapping run. He thrashed the ball past goalkeeper Ederson to claim his first PL goal in the first half.

Manchester City never looked like giving up as they survived a few scares from the hosts to eventually find their equalizer in the latter 45 minutes. Kevin de Bruyne's cross was met deep by Aymeric Laporte amidst offside shouts by the Southampton players. But the goal stood and gave City something to cheer upon on the trip back to Manchester.

In what was a thrilling affair of end-to-end Premier League action, let's get straight into the top five talking points from the game.

#1 Saints manifest how to play against Manchester City

James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu were key in Southampton progressing the ball upfield on Saturday.
James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu were key in Southampton progressing the ball upfield on Saturday.

In what was a heroic display at St. Mary’s, Southampton put up a really confident passage of play to score an important point against Manchester City. It was commendable how Ralph Hassenhutl’s side were able to find progressive passes through the middle despite the usual City press. Southampton's effective attack made life difficult for the visitors’ centre-backs.

✅ Most tackles won✅ Most clearances✅ Most interceptions✅ Most duels won✅ Most touchesColossal 🦂

Manchester City’s high full-backs in the form of Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker made it even more favorable for the Saints. Their successful elimination of the press in the middle of the park led to huge space to run into, especially in the wider areas of the pitch. The hosts’ personnel were able to intelligently note this con in City’s game-play and exploited it very well in the first half, leading to the goal.

Southampton, who have been really good at home this season, really handed out a masterclass on how to play against Manchester City.

#2 Raheem Sterling’s lack of sharpness in the final third almost derails the Citizens

Raheem Sterling had a night to forget on the field tonight.
Raheem Sterling had a night to forget on the field tonight.

Raheem Sterling, one of the most improved players in Pep Guardiola's reign had a first-half performance to forget. The winger was unable to get past Romain Perraud as he lost six of his 10 duels contested in the opening 45 minutes. He made only two dribbles, none of them being very impactful. But the Englishman’s two further mistakes clearly led to Manchester City dropping a point on the night.

Southampton’s opening goal through Kyle Walker-Peters was initiated with Sterling making a loose pass into right half-space. This was picked up by Stuart Armstrong and sent long enough for Che Adams to chase. An easy interception from Manchester City’s wasteful winger shifted the momentum as well as possession towards the home side and the rest was history.

Sterling had a brilliant opportunity to make amends just at the 40th minute mark. Phil Foden’s quick feet were enough to leave Mohammed Salisu for dead. Foden's cut back put the ex-Liverpool forward in an easy spot to convert the effort into a goal. But a disappointing and straightforward finish was easily blocked by Fraser Forster, with the attack dying with no meaningful contribution.

Sterling could have done much better in both situations, which were one of the biggest highlights of the game.

#3 Armando Broja is more than ready for a permanent Premier League campaign

Armando Broja almost scored for Southampton, but his goal was ruled offside.
Armando Broja almost scored for Southampton, but his goal was ruled offside.

A live-wire in the Southampton attack, Armando Broja took the challenge against the Champions head on and was really impressive throughout the night. The 20-year-old on loan from Chelsea went neck-to-neck with City stopper Ederson. He got into a few tiffs once in a while, disturbing the Brazilian in set pieces and open play alike.

It was very refreshing to see the young Albanian take on one of the best keepers in world football with so much confidence.

Southampton will definitely push for a permanent move for the Chelsea loanee at the end of the season. Hence, this summer is going to be full of decision-making times for both the Blues’ management as well as the young forward. He seems perfectly ready for a permanent campaign rather than another testing loan move.

Broja was even closer to making history against Manchester City tonight as he almost scored a goal, which was ruled offside. The goal could have made him the first ever player in 30 years to score in five consecutive home starts for his club.

Another important talking point has been Chelsea’s difficulties with strikers over the past two seasons. The blue half of London has really struggled to find a consistent goal-scoring machine since the reign of Diego Costa in the league. Broja is a proven threat to the opposition's goal at no additional investment required by the already heavy-spending Londoners.

#4 Set piece nightmare turns into a blessing for Manchester City

Aymeric Laporte celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the night.
Aymeric Laporte celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the night.

Southampton carried their first-half momentum into the second half as well. The second-half kick-off whistle brought in a flurry of set-piece chances for the hosts. Much to everyone’s surprise, City who are usually good in set-piece situations, found themselves being over-powered in this very scenario. One such situation almost turned ugly when Broja hit the post from a corner, just for Stuart Armstrong to send it flying into the stands from the rebound.

In a turnaround of events and amidst a rain of attacks from the blue half of Manchester, City equalized through a set-piece situation too. De Bruyne's free-kick was met by Laporte at the far post as the unmarked centre-back hit home to earn a point for his side.

It is really commendable how Southampton out-muscled the Champions during some aerial situations. But what was even more praise-worthy was Manchester City’s perseverance and never-give-up attitude. It won them an important point on the road to win the Premier League trophy for the second time in a row.

#5 Southampton’s unbeaten campaign against Manchester City no less than a league double

Ralph Hassenhuttl celebrates his side's hard-earned draw against City.
Ralph Hassenhuttl celebrates his side's hard-earned draw against City.

With the game ending in another stalemate, Southampton managed to outclass Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City throughout the 2021-22 campaign. Their visit to the Etihad in September had also ended in a 0-0 scoreline.

Having conceded six goals in 180 minutes of the 2020-21 season, this comes as a really big achievement. It is a big improvement for Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side over a period of just 12 months.

Southampton have now retained their position among the England’s elite when it comes to home performances this season. The Saints are the only side, along with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, to not lose more than one game at home since the season began in August.

Though seven of their 11 games at the St. Mary’s have ended in a draw. But it’s still a much better situation to be in rather than dropping all three points in front of the home supporters.

The Saints have a tough away trip to North London in the Premier League next time around as they play Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur. This might bring back the successful three-at-the-back formation for Hassenhuttl’s squad.

Meanwhile, Manchester City will be hoping to recover their lost points and goals when they take on Brentford at the Etihad in early February. Before the Premier League action returns next month, Southampton take on Coventry City while City host Fulham in the next round of the FA Cup.

Edited by Aditya Singh
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