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Southampton 1 v 1 Manchester City
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 22nd January 2022 Kick-off 17:30
Southampton V Manchester City The Verdict
Sunday, 23rd Jan 2022 10:41

This was a game surrounded by stats, City's 12 game winning run being the main one, the possession stats didn't make great reading, but in the end only one stat mattered and that was the final score.

Manchester City have only failed to win on 5 occasions out of 23 games and Saints have been the opponents in two of those, this was not a pretty performance, but it was gutsy and spirited and we battled for every ball as if our lives depended on it.

There couldn't have been many Saints supporters who took their seats last night confident that they were going to see Saints take even a point from a City side who had won 12 in a row in the Premier League, most just hoped that we would not be embarrassed and would put in a decent performance.

They certainly got that and only 7 minutes after taking their seats they were out of them to acclaim a Kyle Walker Peters goal.

It was a great build up with Che Adams playing a key part in holding the ball on the half way line and finding Oriol Romeu who hit a great crossfield ball to Walker Peters, he laid the ball down the line to Nathan Redmond who took the ball to the byeline and then pulled it back for the marauding KWP to take a step or two and lash it home.

That gave us something to defend and we certainly had to do that as City poured forward for most of the next 83 minutes with 74% possession being the final stat in that respect.

But they didn't have it all their own way and although we were on the back foot we had other chances to win it, Broja being fractionally offside when he ran through to make it 2-0 with the goal being disallowed by VAR, the Albanian from Slough also headed against the post in the second half.

But we knew it would be tough and we would have to step up to the plate and we did, there wasn't one man who shirked his task or gave an inch.

We dug in and battled as if our lives depended on it, Mohammed Salisu was immense in the centre of defence and how well we defended was shown in the stats, (yes that word again) City had 20 attempts but only got 5 on target and when they did get the ball past the back line they found Fraser Forster in fine form.

But we couldn't hold on to the lead and we had one lapse in concentration where we failed to defend a free kick and left Laporte with a free header past Fraser Forster who was left exposed.

With 25 minutes remaining we all knew it was going to be a long night, but it wasn't just on the pitch that we got it right, Ralph Hasenhuttl also made the right substitutions to replace tired legs, Lyanco coming on for Jan Bednarek, to add his steel and energy and Diallo for Stuart Armstrong with 10 minutes to go.

Six minutes of injury time were nerve wracking but we saw them through and a massive roar greeted the final whistle when it came.

As I said Ralph Hasenhuttl played his part, he picked a team to be brave, we kept two up front and had a game plan, he has built not only a team but a squad who play for each other and play for the manager, if we can get a key player or two in the summer we could have some exciting times.

It is hard to pick a man of the match, this was a game where everyone who stepped on to the pitch was a 9 out of 10, however there was one 10 out of 10 and that was Mohammed Salisu, he was immense, he reads a game better than anyone we have had since the departure of Virgil Van Dyk, he is strong and he can tackle, yes he is still a little raw and makes the odd rash challenge, but with every game he gets a little more experienced and a little more composed.

This was a game where he didn't put a foot wrong and made some superb tackles and interceptions, some were easy to see and acclaim, but he also makes a lot of interceptions that look simple, but he has made them so by his reading of the game and ability to cut out balls before they put us in danger.

So a very pleasing result, it felt like a win at the final whistle and it was a great atmosphere in the pub after the game, the evening ending on a bizarre note with Ricky Hatton and a load of his mates clearly not that bothered that their side had dropped two points and enjoying themselves as much as the Saints fans.

So another point and another step up the league and a step forward in this season, now we have to put in another performance like this in our next two games and truly show that we can challenge for a top 10 finish come the end of the season.

But one quick question, why did their shirts have Man City written across the shirts, don't they know who they are ?

Photo: Action Images

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Block8 added 10:50 - Jan 23
Nick this is why we want the big boys to stay, so us minnows can bring them down to earth now and again. Great team performance and agree on the 9/10 for all and that includes the crowd.
I had a six year old boy sat next to me who, hopefully in many years time be telling other kids about his first game watching Saints!
We now have to maintain this level of performance throughout the season and Ralph needs to also maintain his tactical selections based on the oposition.

LordDZLucan added 11:05 - Jan 23
Great performance. Everyone played their part. That performance, and the great vocal support for the Saints inside the stadium, may have persuaded some of those plastic Man City fans around us to support their local team instead in the future! Man City are the new Man Utd. in that respect.

IanRC added 11:52 - Jan 23
Great game great performance, hope we can hold onto this group. The likes of Salisu will be hard to keep if he performs like this consistently.

A word for City, I have to say I always enjoy seeing them play and I really like Pep. No whinging about VAR from him and gives credit where due to his opponents.

One of the biggest compliments you can play to our defence is that I hardly heard Bernardo Silva’s name mentioned. That said I do think they over relied on Grealish not sure how you justify £100 million for him.

davidargyll added 11:59 - Jan 23
Without a doubt MOM for me was FF, even if he did cock it up which led to the City levelling, but EVERYBODY was fantastic, 11 out of 10 for everybody, and I will be drooling over of KWP’s goal for quite a while. (My seat is right behind his shooting line and believe me it was in the moment he struck it).

That said, frankly I was amazed that SA got away with only a yellow when he literally carved up Laporte, because VAR said it was apparently only a “glancing” blow. God knows what his leg would have looked like if it had been “direct”. We/he definitely got away with one there.

And as for Grealish, he’s really gone down in my estimation, a tosser of the highest order, such a cry baby, which maybe is why Pep doesn’t give him as much game time as he thinks he deserves…YOU’RE IN WITH THE GROWN-UPS NOW, JACK, SO WHY THE HELL DON’T YOU BEHAVE LIKE ONE??!!!

A couple of other things to nite:

First, did you see how City really get on with it, no messing around when taking goal kicks, throw-ins, corners, even retrieving the ball when it was our goal kick, so surely a lesson here: the quicker you play every ball, the more likely you are to catch your opponent on the hop.

Secondly, on a couple of occasions - de Bruyne and Cancelo I think it was - both shot from outside the penalty area LHS, over a group of players in front of goal, aiming to curl it into the top RH corner. Both shots were wide but nonetheless neither player thought of passing the ball, just get it onto the shooting foot and bang…and yet neither shot was a pile driver, just good clean economical blasts which, had either been a foot or two to the left, surely would have gone in. Fine margins indeed, as I have said before - and no doubt KWPs goal was similar, albeit right to left - but if the best team in the league does it, and RH is always talking about picking up ideas from all other managers, then let’s do more of it ourselves!

And finally, I believe our defending is so much better now because our wing backs are consistently getting goal side of their attackers, stopping them going to the byline and crossing, instead forcing them to go and/or cross inside thus causing any attack to lose momentum. It may be only Page One of the Football Defence Manual so really basic stuff, but my God it was effective last night.

Well that’s been two amazingly entertaining games on the trot at (Fortress?) SMG. My season ticket is proving to be the best value in years. Can’t wait for Coventry…

landsdownsaint added 12:09 - Jan 23
Your verdict is spot on ! Salisu was incredible yesterday & the difference between him & VVD is Salisu has the technical potential of a VVD but he’s got the attitude of Franny Benali , he was incredible yesterday there’s gonna be a few ups & downs with him but Ralph is the perfect manager for him … we saw a side yesterday who really respect their manager

JoeEgg added 12:17 - Jan 23
Yes Ralph did play an important part yesterday in what was a very entertaining match against a very good City side. So why has it taken so so long to put KWP in his rightful position at right back and trust Fraser Foster as his first choice goalkeeper. I have been calling this for weeks and weeks and its taken injuries to Livramento and McCarthy to finally see the penny drop!
We actually had players in their most comfortable positions yesterday and Ralph had stopped tinkering around and at last got everything right. Peraud is a left qidsed full back so leave him there until Thiery Small gets his long awaited chance. And for goodness sake recognise that KWP is one of our major assets and should be first choice right back.
On yesterdays showing KWP joins JWP, Salisu and Broja as players worthy of a place in virtua

JoeEgg added 12:24 - Jan 23
Yes Ralph did play an important part yesterday in what was a very entertaining match against a very good City side. So why has it taken so so long to put KWP in his rightful position at right back and trust Fraser Foster as his first choice goalkeeper. I have been calling this for weeks and weeks and its taken injuries to Livramento and McCarthy to finally see the penny drop with Ralph!
We actually had players in their most comfortable positions yesterday and Ralph had stopped tinkering around and at last got everything right. Peraud is a left sided full back so leave him there until Thiery Small gets his long awaited chance. And for goodness sake recognise that KWP is one of our major assets and should be first choice right back every time.
On yesterdays showing KWP joins JWP, Salisu and Broja as players worthy of a place in virtually any Premier League side. With the excellent Livramento returning hopefully soon I repeat we are a top ten side and capable of playing entertaining and successful football.
Ralph's team selection, tactics and substitutes were spot on. We rode our luck a little at times but this was a performance to be proud of and at long long last we have the right players in the right positions to add to a superbly enthusiastic and committed squad. They were a pleasure to watch and I cant wait for the next opportunity to actually BEAT some of the better sides in the League and make this the norm again for the Saints.

TeamCortese added 12:51 - Jan 23
My goodness, that was a performance!

Completely agree with Nick. Salisu was outstanding but the whole team was very good tbf. FF should also get a mention and I really feel he's getting back to that 2014-2016 form!

Credit to Ralph for making it work the past few years. He's really brought the squad together and created an identity. I feel he's starting to build something very special. I thought Pep was being overly considerate in the pre-match conference but upon further reflection, he was deadly serious about us.

While this match in isolation was just a point it will have a massive impact on the psychology of the squad. It'll bring them a ton more confidence and hopefully, we can play like last night more consistently.

Lastly, if there's ever a time for our new owners to make a statement it'll be by the end of this transfer window:

1. Get Ralph a new deal if he's due one ASAP.
2. Keep the current spine as well as squad players. That being,

Goalkeeper: New GK (hopefully Dean Henderson)

Defence: Salisu & a new CB (need to find a partner longer-term), KWP (RB),
Midfield: Tino (RW), JWP & Romeu (longer-term Diallo)
Upfront: Broja.

Also, think we could do with a playmaker. Watching KDB really made miss Tadic :(

If we can sign Broja permanently along Henderson (as the cherry on the top) I'll be a very happy man :)

highfield49 added 12:52 - Jan 23
Good to read that your mood has lightened a bit since your match preview Nick. As Block8 has already posted, yesterday showed why we should not wish for a European Super League to skim off the clubs with absurd levels of spending power. I'm not sure about your preview analogy of Christians v Lions but, for what it's worth, the slaughter just didn't come to fruition because we refused to lay down under pressure. Of course games against the top clubs are going to be tough but winning any league populated by mediocre teams is going to be a very hollow achievement. I'm in favour of levelling the financial inequalities but recognise that's unlikely to happen, in the meantime let's just enjoy our success despite the odds.
Some great performances yesterday and wish I could have witnessed the alleged confrontation between Grealish and Romeu post match. Hope you recover your dignity soon Jack.

IWOZTHERE added 13:37 - Jan 23
Another gutsy performance with Salisu immense.
Couple of observations.... Perraud very solid, too good to sit on the bench. Poor marking for their goal. I thought Broja worked really hard. The difference between him and Adams/Armstrong is usually that he plays in spurts, saving enough energy for explosive bursts and finishes. Our other two strikers work their nuts off all the time, often in wide areas leaving less 'in the tank', affecting their success in front of goal. That's my take on it anyway?

SaintPaulVW added 14:06 - Jan 23
Fair report. What a great game of football. Edge of the seat stuff for most of the match.

Thought Salisu just edged it over the others. However as Nick says he was a 10 compared to others 9's. Defenders needed to shine yesterday and they all did.

Redmond again underrated by some, yet another assist.

Diallo also looked good when he came on. Some lovely touches.

Stu Armstrong also seems to be finding his feet again. It was a tired challenge that almost did for him. Really looking forward to when he is fully match fit.

Still buzzing.


Farlow added 15:07 - Jan 23
I agree with Team Cortese signing Dean Henderson would be great,however i believe Lyanco will become a top CH.Fabulous performance and Ralph got the subs spot on.
Diallo impressed me by helping us keep the ball more and the forward breakby Lyanco
showed what an all round footballer he is.

ItchenNorth added 15:33 - Jan 23
Great performance from everyone on the pitch.

Rightfully Salisu has been highlighted and was my MoTM.

Forster pulled some good saves again and is our best keeper, but he should have come for the cross for Citys equaliser.

I also thought Romain Perraud was excellent again and needs a mention. He is a real workhorse and never gave City"s left much joy all evening.

In Ralph we trust.

ItchenNorth added 15:36 - Jan 23
City's left, sorry, I meant their right !

saintpete01 added 16:30 - Jan 23
In the past I have given Ralph a lot of stick for Team selections
his substitutions and tactics
But this last month or so he seems a different manager
His team selection has been spot on no more round circles in square pegs
His substitutions correct and timing
I have always loved his passion for our club and never doubted his commitment
His passion is now with the fans in the stands creating a great atmosphere at st.Marys
A lot of that is down to Ralph ,there definitely has been a change the squad are playing
For the Manager with great passion as yesterday’s performance was clear to see
Long may it last

schatfield added 17:27 - Jan 23
You have to wonder what would saints do if Newcastle came in with 60M for Salisu in this transfer window....because you can see why they would

AmericanSaint added 19:04 - Jan 23
Great and fun game to watch. Everyone make great points here which gives us optimism. Their goal was not FF's fault. We should never have carried such a high line with their free kick so far out. If we had started at the pen marker they would never have scored. FF was in no man's land on this one and our defense let him down. He made 3 great stops (Sterling's sitter, Jesus's near post header and the final minute DeBruyne tight angle shot). I agree that Salisu was man of the match, but just barely as this was a team effort. With a little luck we could have been 3 up with Benderak's header and then Brojas header as well. Not complaining, just want a little luck on our side once and a while. Anyways, great way to go into the international break and let's keep moving forward and upward. COYR

halftimeorange added 19:46 - Jan 23
More or less everything about this game was a positive and has been noted by everyone else. It is, however, worth asking what Elyounoussi brought to the game as he seemed to me to be lightweight in tackling, possession and passing and not for the first time. There has to be better warming the bench.

SanMarco added 23:41 - Jan 23
Yes - great performance and when you watch our goal it goes right back to the Sterling bad pass. City didn't touch the ball again. Superb stuff. If one of the big six had done that we would be hearing a lot more about it.

A shame that their goal came from such a lapse. Watching on TV I was shouting 'they are behind you' as the free kick was about to be taken, FF had a great game and couldn't have got to the cross. If he had stayed back he might have saved it though.

Salisu came of age with a superb performance and the rest of the team were all pretty good too! We need to follow this up by putting at least one of Spuds and Manure to the sword.

We got the benefit of the doubt on both VARs - the SA thing looked far worse in slow-motion. Refs should watch things in real time (ie for that shocking penalty for Liverpool today). Life happens in real time so VAR should too. By all means slow it down to see if it hit a hand or to look for contact but when making a decision see it as it was.

underweststand added 06:32 - Jan 24
It's all been said. A masterly display against a City side who could have held the ball all weekend , but every chance they had was well blocked by our defence. Excellent display from FF and surely best game so far for Salisu who showed he can tackle without getting a red card. Nice debut goal from KWP and Perraud showing up well after run of games. Romeu and Prowsey turning up all over the field and making their mark.

Pity about their goal as LaPorte was the only City attacker NOT offside in that movement.
£100 million "Jack the Lad " still not used to playing "the man's game " and cries Mummy every time he goes to ground. Likewise Sterling got little change from his duels with Perraud. A point from this game felt like a win and must give a real boost to Ralph and the squad which - unfortunately - comes just before yet another break in the fixture list.

PaleRider added 07:29 - Jan 24
Great to see the enjoyment and optimism back! This was typified by the wonderful picture of Romeu offering to help Grealish find his false eyelashes!

Watching Saints is now enjoyable again and we can play without fear.


Bettwsresident added 08:41 - Jan 24
PaleRider, I want to like your comment twice. Spot on.

I am slightly more concerned about FF. He is massive and brilliant at close range, but he was motionless for La Porte's goal (the one lapse by our defence as we had 4 marking thin air and 1 marking 4), and also the Cancello and De Bryne shots (and the wolves goal last week). He is brilliantly responsive, but not so good at anticipation. Still his ability to stop close range saves is a net positive.

PaleRider added 08:46 - Jan 24
The reason this is important is that the fans and the team then feed off of each other - hopefully win win! I've even noticed the greater positivity on this forum! Watching and discussing football should be fun! There will be bumps in the road but I think the general direction is hopefully onwards and upwards - something we expected years ago!

Re FF - totally agree about the concerns. However, he inspires far more confidence than McCarthy.

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