City will leave Southampton tonight feeling slightly fortunate to have taken a point from Mauricio Pochettino’s well drilled team.
It wasn’t too dissimilar to last season’s 3-1 loss at the St Mary’s Stadium, with Southampton playing at a high tempo, pressing, and refusing to let City settle. Given City’s long-time struggles against such teams, it was never going to be easy.
City snatched an early lead, though, when a low Kolarov cross found its man and Aguero added yet another to his growing tally for the season.
Most of the game belonged to Southampton, but City had their chances with Aguero and Nasri both guilty of wasting good chances. If only we could be more ruthless away from the Etihad.
Pablo Osvaldo’s equaliser will be on highlight reels for a while as he took Kompany and others out of the game and somehow beat Pantilimon with a delicious chipped shot. Not for the first time this season, an underperforming striker chose City to shine against.
City looked better in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but normal service soon resumed as Southampton took control. City struggled at the back and one moment of poor defending saw Jay Rodriguez casually run through what seemed to be the entire defence, only for Pantilimon to save the day with a great stop.
Pellegrini tried shoring up the midfield by sacrificing Negredo for Garcia, but unfortunately Garcia continues to be a poor third option in midfield for City and little changed.
Possibly hoping the Saints would settle for a draw, Pellegrini switched back to the two striker system late on, with Dzeko coming on, but he did nothing except show his wonky first touch on one occasion.
When the final whistle went, it felt like a point gained rather than two lost. A win would have been ideal after so many slip-ups on the road this season, but Southampton away is a difficult task for any top team as they seem to raise their game and play with “cup final” intensity.
Very few City players stood out today. Fernandinho made a lot of tackles and interceptions, but had little support from Yaya, who often goes missing against energetic midfields like that of the Saints. Aguero caused the Saints some problems, but was wasteful other than his goal. Kompany was very good for most the first half, but struggled along with the rest of the defence in the second.
If City are serious about snapping up British talent, they should make an effort to sign Luke Shaw. It might be difficult or even impossible with him being a Chelsea fan and aware of their interest, but the 18-year-old was outstanding today and already has the ability to oust Kolarov and Clichy from City’s starting 11.
With Chelsea and United losing, this isn’t a bad point on paper, and there may not be a tougher away day remaining this season. But should Arsenal better our result tomorrow, their lead over us will increase even more ahead of our huge game against them next weekend.
Southampton: Gazzaniga, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork, S. Davis (Reed 90), Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Ramírez 85), Rodriguez, Osvaldo (Lambert 67)
Subs not used: Yoshida, Hooiveld, Gallagher, Cropper
Goal: Osvaldo 42
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Milner (Garcia 62), Yaya Toure (Dzeko 79), Fernandinho, Nasri, Aguero, Negredo (Navas 62)
Subs not used: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Clichy
Goal: Aguero 10
Attendance: 31,229 (sold out)
TKA Man of the Match: Fernandinho
Stats courtesy of WhoScored: