Manchester City Away Drew 1 – 1
Southampton and Manchester City were both licking their wounds after European defeats, and Saints now had Long on the injured list, although Redmond was available again – injured for Inter according to the Italian press, but ‘rested’ according to the Echo. City are in a winless streak so recalled Agüero and were able to give a season’s first league start to Kompany. Under Guardiola, the Blues play from the back and Kompany must have had a half dozen touches in the very opening minute and that was to become the pattern of the first half, which won’t have worried Saints. Passing around in your own part of the pitch is all very well (if not very exciting), but you do have to be accurate, and that’s just what Stones was not in the 28th minute, and Redmond was on hand to take the ball round Bravo and knock it in to an empty net. Stones was unlucky not to atone when he forced the ball home from a free kick only to discover Agüero offside and debatably adjudged to have been interfering with play. Saints, though, were looking quite capable of breaking to extend their lead when City lost possession, so forcing Pep to make an unforced change at the interval: Iheanacho on with DeBruyne sacrificed – such luxury! A revised system brought Sterling into the game more, and the visitors found themselves under increased pressure as the game wore on; it was no surprise when Iheanacho beat Van Dijk to Sane’s cross and the Nigerian is statistically the best finisher in the league. With the scores level and well over half an hour to play, Saints were up against it, but the goalkeeper and his defence were to perform heroically to preserve the point despite just 35% possession. They won’t have thought much of substitute Boufal when he lost possession a couple of times, both leading to dangerous situations, but the £20m man did show some positive signs, including a pass to Austin that created our only, but very decent, opportunity of the half. Austin was soon replaced as he was clearly out on his feet, as indeed was Redmond towards the very end, despite his rest. Forster did his best to help his mates out, not only with a couple of important saves but also by talking his time retrieving the ball at goal kicks (and also earning an added time caution for being a bit too obvious about it).
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeo who was one of five players, all defensive minded, to complete the whole of the Inter and City games. Forster, Martina, Van Dijk and McQueen were the others, and it’s worth reflecting on McQueen’s only first team starts to date: at the San Siro and now at Eastlands! For the third choice left back with limited experience to look so assured at these two arenas is quite an accomplishment.
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