Manchester City are at the top of the Premier League and our advice is to get used to it. Admittedly, Arsenal can regain their place at the top with a win over Liverpool on Sunday and the way Mikel Arteta’s side are playing gives them every chance to do so. But anything less than that and the champions will take the lead by mid-October, and that seems only natural given the sheer superiority of their game over almost every opponent lately.
After six goals in last weekend’s Manchester derby and five here midweek against Copenhagen, there were just four goals against Southampton this time, but it would be going too far to describe what the Etihad has seen in terms of diminishing returns over the past week.
If anything, Pep Gaurdiola’s squad just keeps getting better. Erling Haaland scored again, of course – his 20th in 13 games – but then so did Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. A reminder, as if need be, that just because City now have a star attraction, they are still a long way from a one-man team.
This 4-0 defeat should increase the pressure on Ralph Hasenhüttl and perhaps even provide the coup de grace that ends a tenure as coach that has seemed precarious for a long time. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine how the ambitious owners of Southampton could have expected any other result, even after the champions managed a goalless draw in the relevant match last season.
A spirited performance from the visitors deserved better, but few teams can live with City in this form.
Since acquiring Sport Republic at the turn of the year, the most visible impact of new ownership at St Mary’s has been to transform Southampton into a ‘city-by-the-sea’, poaching some of the best young talent from the Academy of Champions and their newcomers Head of Recruitment. None of the four City moving to the south coast this summer had played a Premier League game at the start of the season, all have made their debuts since then, but only one – goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu – was in the starting XI against his former club.
Bazunu and Haaland’s paths did not cross at Manchester as the Republic of Ireland international’s move was completed a few weeks before City’s pre-season training began. Even if they had, Bazunu might not have fared any better as Haaland went at him one-on-one after 15 minutes. The Southampton goalkeeper was hit but luckily his post was not. Somehow the ball stayed out, hit the inside of the post and ran out for goal kick. It turns out that City’s goal cyborg is human after all.
Doesn’t matter. Even if Haaland fails, Guardiola’s side have a thousand other ways to hurt you, often out of nowhere. The move that led to the breakthrough started harmless enough as Foden scooped the ball wide to Cancelo and was subsequently cleaned by Kyle Walker-Peters in the center circle.
Play resumed and Cancelo continued to snake his way up and danced into the box, where he turned poor Stuart Armstrong inside and out before firing deep and hard into Bazunu’s bottom right corner.
Foden was everywhere in the first half and after wasting an opening by shooting straight at Bazunu, he wouldn’t spurn the next. After being shoved down the inside left channel by De Bruyne, he pulled out the Southampton goalkeeper and lifted a delicate chip over his head. It was De Bruyne’s ninth league assist of the season, surpassing the eight he had in total last season when he was voted Player of the Year by many observers and Foden’s fifth goal in his last six games.
Foden’s reward for his performance was due to be replaced before the hour. By then, City were three in the lead thanks to a much-needed first goal of the season for Riyad Mahrez, who volleyed Rodri’s far post cross into the ground and past Bazunu.
The young keeper’s commanding performance – full of confident crosses and wary shots from his line – deserved better than conceding three goals. At least he still won his personal battle with Haaland. For now.
It just hadn’t happened for Haaland, who inexplicably failed to connect with a low De Bruyne cross that set him up for a tap-in and then heavily touched a through ball from the Belgian, allowing Bazunu to rally. But if you keep giving him chances, he’ll take one eventually.
A clean one-two between De Bruyne and the wonderful Cancelo resulted in another inviting low cross perfectly primed for the sweeping left-footed finish that quickly became his trademark. He is inevitable. So it seems, is another City title.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/man-city-southampton-result-final-score-foden-haaland-b2198507.html Result Man City vs. Southampton: Full time result, goals, highlights and match report of the Premier League