The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW33): Southampton 1-0 Man City
Following Manchester City’s big win over newly crowned Premier League Champions Liverpool, the Citizens travel to the South Coast to Southampton, Liverpool’s old academy setup. Southampton are safe from the drop but will be looking to achieve a top half finish for the first time under Ralph Hasenhüttl.
The visiting team dominated in possession for the early portion of the game as you would expect, but the surprise came from Che Adams. Playing out from the back, Zinchenko was robbed of the ball deep in his own half by Stuart Armstrong, which was then picked up by Che Adams who spotted Ederson off his line and blasted a shot into an empty net. It was a fantastic finish for a striker who has finally gotten his first Premier League goal. This sparked memory of Mo Salah’s goal in the Champions League against Man City also lobbing Ederson.
City were zealous in trying to level the score, and the closest they came was Jesus who had a wild back post attempt in the 23rd minute go into the stands. Alex McCarthy found himself busy in the 30th minute when Fernandinho hit the bar, and a few seconds later the Saints keeper’ made a great save to prevent a David Silva header going in. Southampton weren’t sitting idle with a lead, Redmond robbed Cancelo in the 33rd minute but his wild shot was watched going into the stands. Redmond could have had a goal moments later with Ward-Prowse delivering a low cross, but Cancelo made up for his mistake. The English winger also forced Ederson into a low save after they regained possession once again in the City half.
Half time arrived at the perfect time for Guardiola to rally his players, with the break resetting the play for City to come out with an all-out assault on the Southampton goal. City dominated the game, and Alex McCarthy was being tested at every play. Jesus had a header saved in the 50th minute after a succession of blocks by Saints defenders, and the Englishman made another nervy save in the 54th minute after David Silva had his header saved. The Spaniard also had a shot saved after a great Zinchenko through ball, with Bernardo Silva forcing a low save from McCarthy on the 65th minute. One minute later Jesus couldn’t buy a goal with McCarthy once again there for the Saints. Another shock could have happened in the next run of play when Ederson prevented himself from being lobbed by charging out of his box with Che Adams hunting down the ball.
The drinks break help reset the pattern of play, and Southampton found more of a footing into the fixture, with Ward-Prowse and Armstrong have Ederson switch back on to make two saves. The Southampton defence was also moving in perfect synchronicity, it was a real showcase of good defending, with Jack Stephens a magnet for the ball to thwart Kevin De Bruyne who was brought on from the bench to make the difference. The defenders made block after block to frustrate Pep’s side. The Saints held on, with another young manager taking bragging rights over Pep Guardiola.
This is the third consecutive away loss for Man City, with Manchester United (GW28), Chelsea (GW31), and Southampton (GW32). The first time Pep has lost three consecutive away games in his career.
Man of the Match: Alex McCarthy (SOU)
This could have been Jack Stephens, it was a really special performance from him and McCarthy in goal, and the vote goes for the goalkeeper in this match. Stephens was a rock in defence, but Man City still made enough chances for McCarthy to be the last line for Southampton. Without McCarthy’s composure in goal today Man City walk out as winners.
Every time Jesus got onto a header it was well read by the Englishman, a player that has come on well since the Austrian has been at the club. Che Adams had the moment of the match, and Stephens had a commanding performance, but the real MVP of this match was the man keeping a zero on Man City’s score sheet. McCarthy had a game that should be taught to younger players about goalkeeping positioning, and tracking the ball, and keeping calm among the chaos.
Insight and Analysis:
After watching Liverpool get steamrolled by Man City I expected nothing than another game of attack versus defence, with Man City beating Southampton heavily. With this being a game on the BBC all I wanted was it for to be an entertaining encounter, and oh boy did Southampton fight. Che Adams opening lob opened this fixture up. Adams has had so many ‘nearly’ moments on route to his first goal, and he was impressive alongside Ings in the Saints attack and did a lot of the gritty defending to help his team. Southampton deserved that win today, and Hassenhutl has really started to put his stamp on this team.
I focused on Manchester United in my last opinion piece, now I focus on their blue neighbours Manchester City.
Manchester City have lost nine games this term, which after the last two seasons they picked up 198pts, is unheard of. I have talked a lot this season about how the Premier League is becoming more competitive across the board. There are great managers at every club, with Ancelloti even at Everton, and Hasenhüttl is an underrated manager at the South Coast. Now that he has been given the time to put his stamp on Southampton, they look a different outfit from last season with few incomings or outgoings. Ings has been made to be a Golden Boot contender, with Southampton a tough team to beat.
The South Coast club are an example of how the Premier League money and influence just doesn’t benefit the traditional ‘top six’. Hasenhüttl was leading a crazy RB Leipzig team before his switch and is a manager that demands a lot from his team. City’s losses have come to ambitious managers this season with points to prove…Klopp (Liverpool), OGS (Manchester United), Nuno (Wolves), Mourinho (Spurs), Lampard (Chelsea) and even Farke (Norwich) when the Canaries started the season on form. All these managers play attacking football, and they didn’t sit and watch a City attacking drill against a ten-man defence. Hasenhüttl joins those ranks today, and I am not surprised by this in hindsight of what I just watched.
Defensive managers always lose to Man City, but the young and ambitious managers looking to stake a claim in the league attack and show no respect always find a way to break down City’s passing game. Therefore, I can’t see City winning the Champions League, because when they need to defend, they don’t. City are a team built to beat defensive teams, and City have struggled this year with teams not giving them the respect they rely on. Hasenhüttl is an exciting manager in this league, and he could do good things at Southampton.
What I watched wasn’t uncompetitive, Southampton were good enough to beat City. Anyone can beat anyone in the Premier League, and it isn’t a league that is comprised of four dominant teams.
Venue: St. Mary's Stadium
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl
GK: Alex McCarthy
RB: Kyle Walker-Peters
CB: Jack Stephens
CB: Jan Bednarek
LB: Ryan Bertrand
RM: Stuart Armstrong
CM: James Ward-Prowse
CM: Oriol Romeu
LM: Nathan Redmond
ST: Danny Ings
ST: Che Adams
Shane Long, Moussa Djenepo, Michael Obafemi, Will Smallbone, Angus Gunn, James Vokins, Kevin Danso, Alexandre Jankewitz, Will Ferry
Manager: Pep Guardiola
RB: Joao Cancelo
CB: Eric Garcia
CB: Aymeric Laporte
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko
CM: Bernardo Silva
CM: David Silva
RW: Riyad Mahrez
LW: Raheem Sterling
ST: Gabriel Jesus
Claudio Bravo, John Stones, İlkay Gündoğan, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Nicolas Otamendi, Phil Foden, Tommy Doyle, Taylor Harwood-Bellis
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