- Bradley Price
Review and Player Ratings as Haaland fires City to eight straight wins – Southampton 1-4 Man City
Manchester City produced another dominant display to continue their recent run of high-scoring dominant form. Erling Haaland produced a wonder goal on his return from injury as City claimed the vital three points away at Southampton.
A relatively unchanged XI from the one that faced Liverpool, with Haaland replacing Julian Alvarez as the only change after returning from a groin injury. Ederson took up his usual starting position between the posts with a back four in front of him of John Stones, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake. Rodri sat just in front of the back four, with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan completing the midfield. Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez occupied the wings, with Haaland leading the line.
It was a slow start for City as simple mistakes allowed Southampton to look dangerous in periods regardless of the limited possession they found themselves with, but it didn't take long for City to still find their first major chance of the game as some slick passing through the Southampton press found Grealish on the end of a promising chance; his shot was saved, and the deflection was just out of De Bruyne's reach. Probably Southampton's most dangerous chance of the game came as the result of a mistake during a short corner routine as Southampton found themselves breaking with only a chasing Ake and Ederson between them and the City goal, but between the only remaining City defenders, the threat was extinguished. The first half continued as it had started, with City often finding themselves making simple mistakes from sloppiness on the ball and Southampton attempting to capitalise on City's sloppiness, but they couldn't find themselves getting the final ball right.
It wasn't until the 40th minute that City found themselves in dangerous positions again, but De Bruyne really started to find his rhythm as he created back-to-back chances that Haaland couldn't quite convert. But in true Haaland fashion, he kept going, and just before the halftime whistle in the 45th minute, he found himself on the end of another beautiful De Bruyne cross to send City ahead. 1-0 City.
The second half started much better than the first with City playing with more confidence since Haaland's opener, but Southampton still threatening to equalise, with City's first major chance to double their lead coming in the 51st minute as Gundogan fired just wide of the Saints' net.
In the 56th minute, Guardiola decided to make some substitutions, with Bernardo Silva brought on for Mahrez and Kyle Walker on for Stones. It didn't take City long after that to add to their lead as Grealish found himself with space to run into, and although his first shot was saved, he was right there to convert the second chance as Gavin Bazunu found himself unable to hold onto the first shot. 2-0 City.
From this point on City were in full control, comfortable in possession and cruising to the three points and the win, but Haaland decided that wasn't enough, and in the 68th minute, produced a sensational overhead kick to secure City's advantage and the points. 3-0 City.
In typical Guardiola fashion, he decided that was Haaland's job done, and a minute later, he was substituted for Alvarez.
Southampton did manage to get one goal back in the 73rd minute to deny City the clean sheet making the score 3-1. Only a minute later, City found themselves with an instant response as they were awarded a penalty which Alvarez swiftly converted with a shot straight down the middle. 4-1 City.
The last 15 minutes of the game were nicely controlled by the defending Premier League champions, with a number of other chances created but, unfortunately, not converted.
This was a strong result from City to maintain the pressure on league leaders Arsenal at a stadium they have struggled in before. Looking forward to the Champions League in midweek, all City fans will be grateful to see Haaland back fit and firing.
Man of the Match
What was a difficult decision today was made a bit easier by his overhead kick, today's Man of the Match was Erling Haaland. Taking almost no time after returning from injury to get back on the scoresheet and even closer to the Premier League goalscoring record. Breaking the deadlock today in the type of game City have struggled with in the past shows why he is so important to the team. However, De Bruyne also deserves massive praise for his performance today after registering his 100th Premier League assist, with no player achieving the milestone in fewer games (237).
Ederson - 7
Stones - 6
Akanji - 7
Dias - 8
Ake - 7
Rodri - 7
De Bruyne - 8
Gundogan - 7
Mahrez - 6
Grealish - 8
Haaland - 8
Substitutions: Walker - 6, Bernardo - 6, Alvarez - 7, Gomez - N/A, Phillips - N/A
Written by: @BPFoden_
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