Manchester City defeated Southampton 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday, October 8. The win sees them temporarily climb to the top of the league with 23 points from their nine games.
City arrived for this game on the back of five wins in as many games across competitions, scoring a whopping 20 goals in the process. Known for his relentless style of play, Pep Guardiola has a team that can score goals out of nothing. They were heavy favorites prior to kick-off as the Spaniard fielded a full-strength lineup.
Manchester City dominated the first half, keeping the majority of the possession and creating a higher number of chances by far. They moved the ball around well and played most of their game in Southampton’s half. Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva took total control of midfield as they created intricate passing combinations.
Ederson and his defenders were barely tested as the Saints failed to create any real openings to threaten City. Phil Foden and Joao Cancelo looked sharp as they dominated most of the hosts’ attacking play. They both got on the scoresheet in the first period, giving Manchester City a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the break.
Manchester City wasted no time in increasing their lead after the restart as Riyad Mahrez scored a lovely volley after 49 minutes. Rodri played him through with a dinked pass that caught Southampton’s defense off-guard. The goal gave City some breathing space, allowing Pep Guardiola to make some substitutions.
Erling Haaland then got on the scoresheet, having come very close in the first half as he hit the woodwork. Cancelo provided an assist for the goal from the left flank, playing it towards the Norwegian, who finished with a low shot to make it 4-0. Despite City’s several changes, they were able to maintain their tempo of play and controlled the game well.
Manchester City secured a 4-0 win with relative ease. That said, let’s take a look at the five hits and flops from the game.
#5. Hit – Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland took all of 66 minutes to get on the scoresheet in the game, enduring a highly-frustrating period leading to that point. Prior to his goal, Haaland attempted four shots with two off target and the other two were blocked. He played the entire 90 minutes but only had 27 touches of the ball. Despite that, he scored with his first and only shot on target.
The goal takes his tally to 20 goals from 13 games across competitions, with 15 of them coming in the Premier League.
#4. Flops – Southampton’s attackers
It was no surprise that Southampton saw very less of the ball throughout the game. However, what they did with their limited possession was below par to say the least.
The Saints kept 34% possession of the ball throughout the game and attempted five shots in the process. One shot came in the first half while the rest were attempted in the second half, with none of them being on target. Ederson barely broke a sweat as he was not tested at all.
Southampton’s forwards have the quality but lacked patience as they tried to rush things and force opportunities to score from.
#3. Hit – Phil Foden
Foden was Manchester City’s star in the first half as he ran riot around the Saints’ defenders. First he provided an assist for Joao Cancelo’s opener, laying the ball off to him as he cut inwards from the left flank. Foden then chipped goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu to score after 32 minutes as he made it 2-0 to City.
Foden also played four key passes, two accurate crosses and three accurate long balls, showing why Guardiola rates him so highly. He was the hosts’ main attacking outlet until the 58th minute when he was subbed off.
#2. Hit – Pep Guardiola’s squad rotation
There are very few managers in world football that come close to the micromanagement skills that Pep Guardiola possesses and advocates for.
His gameplan today seemed clear – secure the result and then rotate the squad. His side did well to go into the break leading 2-0, and made it 4-0 after just over an hour of football. Manchester City were at their devastating best in attack as they showed no mercy. However, as soon as the fourth goal went in, Pep used all his substitutions, giving his younger players a chance to feature.
#1. Hit – Joao Cancelo
Joao Cancelo is one of the only players in the world who can win games starting in the left-back spot. He put in one such performance today, notching a goal and an assist in an outstanding display.
He scored Manchester City’s opener after 20 minutes with a powerful shot with his weaker left foot which beat Bazunu in goal with ease. He then provided a classy assist for Haaland to score from in the second half in a commanding display.