Ten-man Manchester City Make Intentions Clear and go Second

Ten-man Manchester City Make Intentions Clear and go Second

Manchester City dismantled Southampton at St. Mary’s in an intriguing game that only deserved more goals. Goals from Toure, Lampard and Clichy fired City into second position, six points behind leaders Chelsea. Southampton were shown what level they need to reach if they are to be European Cup competitors. The game could have gone either way and was far from as one-sided as the final result suggests, with the Saints deserving some credit for their performance.

City Intentions

Southampton entered the game in second place and with the fewest goals conceded of all teams in the Premier League. However, in their upcoming fixtures Match statsthey are to face Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal twice in five of the seven remaining games until the end of year 2014. They have lost both their previous games against last year’s top 7 finishers Tottenham and Liverpool – the only two games they had lost so far this season. Manchester City came off a tough, extraordinary Champions League midweek fixture against Bayern, dominated by Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick. They were third in the league with 24 points, 2 more than this time last year.

The first controversy of the game came after 9 minutes when Aguero was dribbling along the edge of the Saint’s box and was brought down by a rash tackle by Jose Fonte just as he tried to avoid the centre-back. To the amazement of the crowd, referee Michael Jones showed the Argentine a yellow card for diving instead of pointing to the penalty spot and punishing Fonte. This did not discourage the Citizens however, as minutes later, Navas found Toure just outside the edge of the box from the right flank and the resulting shot was held on the second attempt by Forster.

The Saints then failed to score three times in the space of seconds, as Tadic’s’ cross found Pelle on the move behind the sky blue defence, but his slight touch was denied by the advancing Hart; the rebound fell to Davis on the right who was looking for the bottom left corner only to be denied by a stunning save by the English international, Tadic was the first to the rebound this time but failed to stick the ball into the net after a combination of Kompany and Hart efforts on the line to put their bodies in the way.

On the half hour mark, Nasri found Jovetic in the left side of the penalty area. The Montenegrin sent a stinging effort at Forster and managed to get the ball through his legs, but the back pedalling Alderweireld stopped the ball on the line and cleared before Aguero could get there.

Yaya Toure goal

Toure scores the first goal of the game

Southampton restarted the game after halftime with a good spell resulting in shots by Alderweireld and Tadic that both missed the post of Hart’s goal by inches.

The breakthrough came at the other side when the ever threatening Aguero drew the attention of three defenders to himself inside the box, played in Toure at the edge of the box who released a thundering shot that took a slight deflection on its route to the bottom left corner with Forster having no chance. This was Toure’s third goal of the campaign after scoring last weekend against Swansea. Aguero and Navas could have doubled the hosts led with chances only minutes later, but both sprung their shots wide of goal.

Mangala then cynically took down the escaping Shane Long and was correctly shown a second yellow card and went to the dressing room, leaving everyone to wonder why exactly City payed £32 million for him this summer. The Saints failed to trouble the weakened visitors though, instead leaving gaps for the champions to counter. On one such counter attack, Milner passed to Lampard who struck the ball into the same spot as Toure again leaving Forster again with no chance. This was Lampard’s fifth goal in 11 appearances for the Manchester side.

Another gap in the Saints’ defence left Aguero racing alone at Forster. While any other day he would have routinely tucked it home past the keeper, he tried to round Forster but allowed the goalkeeper to excel as he pushed the ball away from the Argentine’s feet. However, in the 80th minute, Demichelis went forward with the ball to the halfway line, found Aguero on the left who had time to look over his shoulder to spot the run of Clichy on the other side of goal and pull off a sublime pass across the face of goal with the outside of his boot straight into the full backs path and he slotted the ball into the top corner past Forster.

Although not as one sided as the result suggests, Manchester City deserved to win today and got a crucial three points to cut the gap on Chelsea to six points with a packed calendar coming up.

Sergio Aguero meanwhile continued his sublime run of form and was again the outstanding player in the sky blue shirt. He showed composure, technical skills and ability, great awareness, directness, and despite not scoring a goal, he was instrumental to the victory by providing two great assists for his teammates Toure and Clichy. In total, he prepared four dangerous positions for his teammates. He also successfully accomplished four take-ons out of four, three of which came in the oppositions half. His finishing maybe wasn’t as perfect as we were used to from his recent performances, but he still managed five shots, two of which were on target. What was fascinating to watch was Aguero’s ability to pick the ball up in wide spaces as well as come for it to the midfielders and then drive at defenders, often drawing more than one defender to himself, creating space for his teammates to get into. Aguero does not have to score to be the best player on the pitch. In this form he just has to be on the pitch and City fans should pray that he stays fit. He is the best striker in the Premier League, and behind Messi and Ronaldo, he is currently the third best striker in the world.

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Aguero’s shots against Southampton

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Chances created by Aguero against Southampton

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Take ons attempted by Aguero against Southampton