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  • Tom Cayless

Late Raheem Sterling winner ruled offside – Manchester City 0-0 Southampton Review

Before today, Pep Guardiola's side have scored 16 goals in their previous three home games but couldn't manage even one against relegation candidates Southampton.

After Guardiola's controversial calling on the fans during midweek, the Etihad was packed full of hopefuls wanting to see entertaining and thrilling football from the Premier League champions but they didn't get any of that.

City started with five changes to the side that beat RB Leipzig 6-3 on Wednesday, but there didn't seem to be any energy or intensity in certain areas of the team.


The game began as most would have expected - the hosts had plenty of possession and mostly controlled the tempo of the game. They passed the ball around the pitch patiently but couldn't find any gaps in the Saint's defence.

Southampton then grabbed a foothold in the game, especially on the counter-attack. They were getting in behind Kyle Walker quite often and won a few early corners but nothing significant came from them.

Very few moments came in the first half but there were a few moments when City came close. Gabriel Jesus played a one-two with Raheem Sterling around the Southampton defence, the Brazillian then whipped the ball across goal towards Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese was only a matter of inches away from an open goal but couldn't stretch enough.

Photo courtesy of Martin Rickett/Imago

City were even flatter in the majority of the second half. Guardiola's side constantly gave the ball away in dangerous areas, perhaps against a 'better' side they'd have been punished but Southampton didn't find a way.

Danger came in the 60th minute though. Walker gave the ball away cheaply from a free-kick, Southampton striker, Adam Armstrong rounded the ball past Ruben Dias and then clashed with Walker. John Moss gave a straight red to the City right-back alongside a penalty to Southampton, but VAR intervened and let both City and Kyle Walker off the hook in reversing both decisions.

Photo courtesy of Martin Rickett/Imago

Shortly after, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez were both subbed on followed by Phil Foden. City kicked City into another gear and they found themselves more intensity and life. The Blues were quicker in their play but still struggle to break down Southampton's defence.

Yet despite such a poor performance, City thought they had won it right at the end. De Bruyne crossed far-post to Foden who headed towards Alex McCarthy's goal. He saved excellently but couldn't deny a Sterling rebound. VAR, however, once again broke City hearts and ruled the goal out for offside on Sterling.

Photo courtesy of Zac Goodwin/Imago

It ended 0-0.


Player ratings:

Ederson (6) Walker (5) Dias (7) Ake (6) Cancelo (7) Fernandihno (5) Gundogan (6) Bernardo Silva (6) Grealish (7) Sterling (6) Jesus (6)

Substitutes: Kevin De Bruyne (7) Riyad Mahrez (6) Phil Foden (7)

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Imago

The result isn't the end of the world for City, the worst they can find themselves is three points behind the leaders if they all win. Nevertheless, it was a game that should have been a routine three points but it wasn't.

It adds extra pressure onto the next two Premier League games, two games that even though it is early could define City's season. Chelsea and Liverpool away.


Speaking in his post-match press conference, Pep Guardiola discussed the reason for the draw:

"Today we didn't win not because we don't have a centre forward, we didn't win because we didn't make better balls for the players up front, and when they are good you can run and take up different positions. We had one shot on target but 4/5 were blocked, but that [striker] is not the reason. The reason is the process, the back four and Fernandinho have to bring the ball to the other guys but today it was not good.
"We were not fresh in our mind, sometimes there are these days. It's a pity but I think in the game they could run, they could arrive to the 18-yard box to shoot but they didn't shoot much. We were there but could not be clinical, but we have to create more and be better [process] behind."

(as quoted by Sam Lee – The Athletic)

Photo courtesy of Conor Molloy/News Images/Imago

Written by @Tom72ii

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