Your Move, Arsenal: Man City Lay Down The Gauntlet With 4-1 Smashing Of Saints

Man City aren't done fighting for the Premier League title
19:23, 08 Apr 2023

Manchester City hammered Southampton 4-1 this afternoon, in a dominant display punctuated by some fine performances. Erling Haaland, Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne all seem to be hitting form at the first time, and each man was outstanding at St Mary’s. It was the sort of display that will be causing concern in north London, as City chase down league leaders Arsenal. Five points separate the sides with each having nine games left to play. Seasoned titleists City will be right there if Arsenal slip up you sense. The Gunners’ Sunday clash with Liverpool is crucial.

For the most part, the first half followed the pattern of a typical Man City game against a side in the lower reaches of the league. Pep Guardiola’s men had all of the ball and the majority of the chances as Southampton endeavoured to keep them at bay.


Gavin Bazunu was equal to a curling Jack Grealish shot while Ilkay Gundogan had a firm hit blocked. Grealish struck the ball and saw it hit the hand of James Ward-Prowse, but the penalty appeals were half-hearted and misguided. A well-picked pass from Kevin de Bruyne nearly unlocked the door, but Erling Haaland could not control the troublesome bounce.

While City’s dominance was clear it was not total. Kamaldeen Sulemana nicked the ball from De Bruyne and raced past Nathan Ake, before miscontrolling it as he shaped to shoot in the City box. Romeo Lavia laid it off for Sulemana towards the end of the half, but this time Southampton’s record signing shot wide.

Another element that made this a quintessential Manchester City half of football is the fact that when the goal did come, it was Haaland that scored it. Grealish picked out De Bruyne wide on the left. The Belgium midfielder whipped in a pitch-perfect ball and Haaland headed it home. So smooth. So effortless. So City.

Grealish displayed good instincts to hold the ball up long enough for Gundogan to strike early in the second half. The midfielder sent his shot just wide, but City had started the half confidently. The moment would serve as a warning for what followed.

De Bruyne topped his first half assist when he found Grealish with a sublimely-taken pass. The England man had a left-footed shot saved by Bazunu. When the rebound came, he was the calmest man in the stadium as he stroked it home with his right. An elegant goal from all involved.

As is often the case when a heavy underdog finally has their resistance broken, the goes were now flying in at pace. Haaland scooped another goal for his incredible personal tally. Once again De Bruyne and Grealish were involved. The former passed to the latter, the latter then crossed for Haaland to score with a brilliant bicycle kick. As he has done before, Guardiola hooked Haaland at this stage rather than let him pursue personal milestones.

Saints were not quite ready to lay down and accept the rout. Sekou Mara slotted past Ederson with a fine finish that seemed to defy the fact it was only his second Southampton goal. The fact the previous one also arrived against Man City suggests that perhaps he only brings his shooting boots to these fixtures.

No sooner had Southampton given themselves something to hold onto than Kyle Walker-Peters brought down De Bruyne. It was a clumsy tackle and a certain penalty. One that no VAR official in the world would have overturned. Julian Alvarez, Haaland’s replacement and faithful understudy, lashed the penalty home with aplomb. He won’t want to be a back-up forever, but the hearty roar from the travelling City fans showed they love their World Cup winner even if they don’t see much of him compared to the man he replaced.

Winning the title from here is a big ask for City. But finishing top in four of the last five Premier League seasons was a big ask too. If there is any team in the division uniquely positioned for this sort of challenge, it is the one managed by Pep Guardiola. His old apprentice Mikel Arteta is well aware of the fact that the Cityzens aren’t done just yet.

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