Manchester City took a massive step in the right direction as far as the top four race is concerned with a 3-0 win at St Mary’s this afternoon. Goals from captain Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sané and Sergio Aguero were enough to see off a Southampton side who gave City a good game for an hour.
Some moments are worth waiting for, but not many are worth waiting for more than seeing the delight and passion on Vincent Kompany’s face as he headed the Blues in front. The skipper let out two seasons worth of frustration as he embraced the travelling City fans with joy and passion.
It wasn’t the most decisive performance today in truth, especially in the first half. City were poor and failed to really work Fraser Forster in the opening 45 minutes, as Southampton looked resolute and compact with men behind the ball at all times.
City had a couple of half-chances, as did the home side. Tadic could’ve done better with a shot when he found space in the box, and Silva on the other hand probably should’ve at least hit the target from close range. The only real talking point of the half came when Sané broke clear with a beautiful run inside the full back Cedric, before being brought down by Forster. The referee declined the penalty shouts, and luckily this didn’t cost City the points and we don’t have to talk about it in any more detail.
City came out after the break with more desire and intent going forward, but it took a set piece and questionable goalkeeping to finally get the goal. To state the obvious, Vincent brings defensive solidarity and leadership, but also with Vinnie comes a huge threat in the box for corners and free kicks, that we lack. He used his immense strength to hold off the defender, and thumped his header towards goal – the rest is history.
City were 1-0 up and despite a few minor scares at the back, Pep’s side were in cruise control of the game. Saying this, the game was still there for the taking as far as Southampton were concerned, so the second goal was a commodity.
The second goal is up there with the best of the season as far as build up is concerned. De Bruyne and Silva exchanged some intricate passing before El Mago played a beautifully weighted ball into the path of De Bruyne, who had the Southampton half pretty much to himself. Sané came to help, and Kevin put it on a plate for him to finish and put the Blues two goals to the good. Credit to Leroy, as the finish was harder than it looked as the 6 foot 7 Forster rushed towards him.
From this point, it was more about how many City would win by. Low and behold, within minutes City got their third goal. Again, Kevin De Bruyne was the architect. I’d like to know how many goals De Bruyne has created from the little pocket of space he finds on the right hand side of the box. This was one of those occasions, as Kevin lifted the ball into an area for Aguero to attack and head home.
Overall, it was a relatively comfortable afternoon on the south coast for City. The most important thing is the three points, but there are so many more positives that Pep will take from today.
Three players stood out today for me. The man that will get all the plaudits is Vinnie Kompany. He was excellent – first to every loose ball, commanding, dominant in the air. His performance was everything you want from your centre half, and his celebration was enough to give goosebumps to City fans. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all City fans by saying its great to see Vincent back smiling and playing at his best. Another man deserving a mention is De Bruyne, who sits on top of the assist table tonight after an excellent display in his favoured more advanced role. Finally, Nicolas Otamendi had one of his best games in a City shirt. When I saw his name on the team sheet over Stones, I feared the worst, with the likes of Gabbiadini running at him, but he proved me wrong with some brilliant blocks, clearances and interceptions. There is no coincidence that Otamendi, Navas and Clichy (and even Bravo!) put in a solid defensive display when Vinnie is back.
Next for City is a season defining trip to Wembley against Arsenal, who will go into the game in poor form whatever their score is in Middlesbrough on Monday. Despite this, it will be a tough game and City will need to be at their best.