28/11/2015: Man City 3-1 Saints
Saints were soundly beaten for the second consecutive week at Manchester City. The visitors were completely overwhelmed by their opponents during the first 25 minutes or so. Saints did regain their composure later in the game as City took their foot off the gas slightly, but the end result was never really in doubt.
City started the game at an incredibly high tempo and Saints were unable to cope. The home side pressed to great effect, with Maarten Stekelenburg almost fumbling a couple of through balls early on. City took the lead on 8. Raheem Sterling got away from Maya Yoshida on the left wing before driving into the area and crossing low for Kevin De Bruyne to tap in. On 13 Sergio Aguero almost nipped in for a second after Saints had cheaply given away possession in midfield again.
Saints struggled to get out of their own half during the first 20 minutes. Ronald Koeman's side were unable to build any momentum on the ball. On 19 City cut Saints open again, with Aguero seeing his shot blocked by Jose Fonte. City were then denied a good penalty shout when Steven Davis appeared to handle the ball on the line. From the resulting corner Fabian Delph's shot crept in from just outside the area, with a little help of a deflection.
Out of nothing Virgil van Dijk struck the bar on 22, having embarked on a good forward run. City cooled off slightly and Saints were able to make a few purposeful breaks forward. Both sides had a couple of half chances going into the break. Sterling scooped the ball over on 35, with Fonte off injured. Willy Caballero pushed out Shane Long's 41st minute shot, which came at the end of some decent build-up play.
Saints sent on Dusan Tadic for Oriol Romeu and half-time and looked a lot more positive as a result. The team pulled a goal back on 49. Long headed in Sadio Mane's deep cross to the back post. Saints were in the ascendancy during the next 15 minutes or so. The game was quite open with the visitors passing the ball about smoothly without creating too many clear cut chances. Tadic missed a glorious chance to level just past the hour when he broke through down the left. The Serb's attempted chip failed to beat the keeper, however.
On 66 Yaya Toure had a chance when Victor Wanyama gave the ball away in midfield. That was immediately followed up by another Tadic effort. For all Saints' pressing, you never really got the sense a second goal was coming. City put the result beyond doubt on 69. Alexander Kolarov shooting through a crowd of players on the left after De Bruyne had switched the ball on the other side of the box.
There wasn't much in the way of meaningful action during the last 15 minutes. Saints had a rare break on 83 when Mane had a shot tipped wide by the keeper. Right on full-time Mane another effort on the turn easily gathered by Caballero.
Since promotion we have lost every time we've played at The City of Manchester Stadium. Each game has followed pretty much the same pattern. City turn it on when they need to. They get a bit lackadaisical in spells, and Saints look semi-threatening, but ultimately you know what the final result is going to be. Saints played with fear during the first 20 minutes. By the time the team got their act together it was too late. We weren't expected to have got anything from this game, so the result is not a major disaster, but it would have been nice if we were a bit more prepared in the early going.
Stekelenburg: 5. Spilled a few simple balls and never looked entirely convincing
Yoshida: 5. Looked inhibited after losing out to Sterling for the first goal
Fonte: 5. Unable to stop City's attacking threat before going off injured
van Dijk: 5. Worst game in a Saints shirt to date. Gave the ball away too many times, and unable to keep pace with his opponents at times
Bertrand: 6. Didn't offer too much going forward, but passable defensively
Wanyama: 5. Far too wasteful in possession
Romeu: 5. Made a couple of good runs forward later in the first-half, but very sloppy early on
Ward-Prowse: 5. Didn't really assert himself on the game as much as he should have, and set piece delivery not up to the usual standard
Davis: 6. Fairly tidy on the ball
Mane: 6. Threatened on occasions with his pace. Decent delivery too
Long: 5. Some good pressing in spells, but didn't do a lot on the ball outside of the goal
Caulker: 6. Not troubled too much defensively. Predictable distribution
Tadic: 6. Added a bit of creativity to Saints' attacking play. Just lacking that finishing touch
Juanmi: Didn't do a lot
Man City: De Bruyne (9) Delph (20) Kolarov (69)
Saints: Long (49)
Referee: Roger East
Man City line-up: Caballero, Sagna, Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Delph (Fernando 71), Toure, De Bruyne, Sterling (Silva 75), Aguero (Bony 64)
Saints line-up: Stekelenburg, Yoshida, Fonte (Caulker 36), van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Romeu (Tadic 46), Ward-Prowse (Juanmi 77), S Davis, Mane, Long
Subs not used: K Davis, Martina, Clasie, Ramirez