Manchester City 3
(Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero)
St Mary’s Stadium
Premier League football on my doorstep is a real luxury. To think that people all over the world sit down to watch the best league in the world and I can get in my car, drive ten miles down the road and be at St Mary’s. At one point I could walk 10 minutes and be at the ground.
Now I know Southampton aren’t quite the same level as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal & Spurs, but the fact that all of these teams have to visit St Mary’s is incredible.
As you may have guessed by the amount of games I watch, I love football. I love football at any level, I am very content watching the likes of Whitchurch and Fawley in the Wessex League, but I do also have so much admiration for the skill and players on show in the professional game.
I have seen some of the best players of the 21st century. From Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Figo, Cafu, Henry, Ronaldinho, Xavi, Iniesta, Beckham, Zlatan, Gerrard, Alonso I have watched all these players live in the flesh, something that I am very fortunate to have done.
Today was another example of one of those games. I think my appreciation for the Premier League and elite level of football has grown since I started going to more Non League games. Some people are very quick to decide to like one or the other, but it is all one game, there to be played by everyone and I am there to watch it.
When a friend called to say he had a spare ticket for today’s Saints game I was never going to turn it down. The late kick off meant I could squeeze in a game at Whitchurch and then as that game finished just before 5pm we raced back to the city, missing just a couple of minutes as we parked up and walked to the ground.
The players on show for both sides are incredible, looking at the starting line ups for both sides there was only one player without a senior international cap and that was Saints central defender Jack Stephens.
Man City and all their millions have some world class talent on the pitch, it was great to see the likes of Aguero, Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne and maybe I take it for granted but players for Saints such as Bertrand, Cedric and Gabbiadini are all great to watch.
This was my fourth time watching the blue half of Manchester, having first watched them at Stoke City, a 1-1 draw when Peter Crouch scored an amazing goal, lobbing Joe Hart from 40 yards out. Yaya Toure equalised that day in a game that featured Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri.
I have also seen City twice before at St Mary’s, first in the 2012-13 season when Saints ran out 3-1 winners thanks to goals from Steven Davis and Jason Puncheon, as well as an own goal from Gareth Barry.
I was also at Saints against City in the 2013-14 season when Dani Osvaldo scored a great goal to cancel out Aguero’s opener to draw 1-1.
Man City scored three goals in the second half to keep their chances of spot in the top four alive as Southampton lost at home for the first time since February.
Goals from Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero gave Pep Guardiola only his second win from City’s last six games in all competitions.
Argentina international Aguero had the best of the early chances, failing to make a clean connection at the back post from Gael Clichy’s cross before dragging a shot across Fraser Forster’s goal moments later.
Dusan Tadic wasted a great chance for Saints when Nathan Redmond played a neat ball through to Manolo Gabbiadini and he squared to Tadic who put the ball high into the crowd behind the goal.
Saints did pile on a bit of pressure in the first half as Claudio Bravo punched away Tadic’s cross before Cedric’s effort was blocked away from the rebound.
The best chance of the half fell to David Silva who volleyed into the side netting at the back post after a slick counter-attacking move by the visitors. Aguero had broken free on the left wing and supplied the cross but Silva couldn’t get the shot on target.
With the scores level at the break, Saints started the second half brightly with James Ward-Prowse curling a 25-yard free kick just wide after Steven Davis was bundled over by Silva.
However, just a few minutes later, it was the Sky Blues who found themselves ahead through their captain Kompany. Jesus Navas sent a rocket of a shot from range at goal and Forster did excellently to tip the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner, Silva swings the ball in and Kompany runs through the centre of the box to plant a header firmly into the back of the net before celebrating with the travelling fans behind the goal.
Claude Puel made a double change after the goal, bringing on some fresh legs in attack as Shane Long and Sofiane Boufal replaced Ward-Prowse and Gabbiadini on the hour mark.
City went close to doubling the lead but Forster was able to smother Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross away before Silva’s follow up was blocked away by Jack Stephens.
Maya Yoshida was unlucky not to pull the scores level when Tadic sent in a tasty cross into the box and it well to the Japan defender who was a bit off balance as he glanced his header into the hands of Bravo.
As Saints attacked for the equaliser, Man City finished the game off with a perfect counter attack. Three quick one touch passes started a finished with De Bruyne via Aguero and Silva as the Belgian raced through with Sane in support and with just the ‘keeper to beat squared the ball to Sane to tap in first time for 2-0 with 13 minutes left on the clock.
Three minutes later, City made it three when Aguero managed to squeeze himself between Stephens and Cedric to head over the line from De Bruyne’s perfect cross into the box.
Shane Long, who picked up a knock in the build up to City’s third was replaced by Jay Rodriguez after just 22 minutes on the pitch as Saints looked to have run out of options in this game.
Guardiola spread his three substitutions over the final ten minutes of the game with Pablo Zabaleta, Raheem Sterling and Kelechi Iheanacho all getting some minutes on the pitch.
2016/17 Games: 121
2016/17 Grounds: 64 (10)
Total Grounds Visited: 155 (41)