Man City 4 Southampton 1: Three talking points
Man City 4 Southampton 1: Three talking points as the Citizens edge to victory over the Saints at The Etihad
The spirit of champions?
Manchester City had the chance to move within a point of Premier League leaders Liverpool in the early kick-off, but the Citizens were surprisingly languid considering the importance of the fixture. Despite Yaya Toure giving the Citizens a third-minute lead from the penalty spot, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were out-played and over-run in midfield in the first half. And Southampton’s dominance was rewarded as Rickie Lambert matched Toure’s effort by scoring his 34th Saints penalty and maintaining his 100 per cent record from the spot for club. It looked ominous for City, with Adam Lallana and Lambert running the prospective champions ragged. But two moments of quality changed the momentum of the match. Toure, Edin Dzeko and David Silva all combined to leave Samir Nasri with a simple finish from close range. Mauricio Pochettino sense of frustration – which was triggered after the offside flag failed to go up with Silva offside for Nasri’s strike – was heightened when Dzeko leapt above the Saints defence to give City a 3-1 half-time lead. City kept the foot to the floor after the interval despite being far from their fluid best – and the home side finally put the game out of sight with Stevan Jovetic’s late strike.
City prove goals are key
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho defended the Blues’s inferior goals record this season at his pre-match media conference on Friday. The Blues manager said: “What I like is the fact with such a difference in goals, the difference in points is not so big… So probably we have a huge difference of goals that we concede and they concede”. City have scored 21 goals more than Chelsea and leaders Liverpool eclipse the Citizens’s tally by five strikes. Whilst the Premier League’s top two have conceded more than the Blues, it has been their ability to grind out results and find the back of the net. Chelsea were punished for a toothless performance at Crystal Palace last week but City manager to secure maximum points against the Saints despite being well below-par. What is the difference? City can rely on the likes of Nasri, Silva and Toure to produce chances and goals even when the Citizens are struggling and get out of jail.
Rodriguez blow for England
And so it begins! The final months before a World Cup are always a nail-biting time for any England manager and it will be no different for Roy Hodgson. There were no out-field England players on show in Sky Blue, so it was a chance for Southampton’s triumvirate of Lallana, Lambert and Jay Rodriguez to underline their credentials. The Saints trio were the chief architects of Southampton’s first-half comeback as City were unable to cope with their cunning movement. But Rodriguez, who was Southampton’s brightest spark in the opening 23 minutes, went up to control a high ball but landed awkwardly on his right leg. The former Burnley man yelped in anguish and had to be stretchered off, leaving his World Cup dream in tatters. The 24-year-old, who has scored 15 goals in 33 Premier League appearances this season, was expected to provide an option from the bench in Brazil. There is also a big news injury story before a World Cup – David Beckham in 2002 and Wayne Rooney in 2006 and 2012. Hodgson will be hoping that Rodriguez is the only serious casualty as England need all their talented stars to have any chance of progressing past the group stage.