Saturday PL Review: The excellence of Kevin De Bruyne helped Man City to regain top spot


Manchester City beat Southampton 3-1 at home to go top of the Premier League. Both teams wanted to turn the table after last week’s defeat and City just did that quite convincingly.

Two early goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Fabian Delph promised a dominant start but after the break, the visitors struck through Shane Long. Kolarov’s 69th minute strike sealed the game for the hosts and later a 1-1 draw between last week’s two table toppers ensured that City will finish this week as league leader on goal difference.

After a thumping defeat on the hands of Liverpool last week, City started brightly as Sterling, who linked with Toure very well, took the shot which was held by Stekelenburg. Five minutes later, Kolarov forced another save from him from a free Kick. And then City broke the dead lock just after a couple of minutes. Yoshida was dispossessed by Sterling who passed it to Kevin De Bruyne who tapped in from close range. This time it was all City reigning the pitch.

Southampton created their own problems. They were pressed hard in their half and they gave away the ball cheaply. In 20th minute, Southampton was lucky not to lose a man. Kevin De Bruyne’s corner found unmarked Fernandinho who headed the ball towards goal which was blocked by Davis’s arm. He got away with that. In the resulting corner from De Bruyne, Delph, who has made his first Manchester city start, took a shot which was deflected by Van Dijk past Stekelenburg. After that the visitor started to ask some questions of the Blues’ defense. Van Dijk’s fierce shot beat Caballero only to rattle the post before Long and Wanyama’s Shots were saved by the City custodian. Before halftime, Southampton lost their ever present captain Fonte due to Injury.

In second half, Southampton started brightly. And they reduced the deficit by an excellent play from Mane who crossed the ball to Long to find the roof of the net. This time it looked like that the game was still on. Dusan Tadic started to cause lots of problems in City’s defense. He danced through the opposition defense and his shot was well held before his second shot was also kept out as it was definitely going in.

When it seemed that an equalizer might come, the home team killed the game. Kevin De Bruyne was once again the architect. He found unmarked overlapping Kolarov who took a powerful low shot to guide the ball into the bottom corner. It was almost done and dusted. Couple of attacks was there after this goal. Mane squandered a chance in a 4 on 2 situation where he chose to take the shot himself rather than passing.

A brilliant ball of De Bruyne, again, found substituted Wilfred Bony who took the shot horribly and later found himself in a offside position. David Silva returned after a lengthy injury. His inclusion though did not make City manager Pellegrini full happy as he was forced to substitute off his charismatic striker Aguero due to some injury. Tadic again caused some problems but it was too little too late. 3 points for the home side

Manchester City now reaches 29 points and Southampton is now 9th with 20 points and can go down to 10th if Liverpool will win.

From tactical Point of view, Dusan Tadic should start. He was creating a lot of problems along with Mane. They missed their big front man Pelle due to suspension. And Southampton gave the ball away, lost possession, especially in the first half. Southampton could not create a solid width in the first period. After Tadic’s inclusion, they were able to do that as there were big gap between two center backs and two attack minded full backs. City desperately missed their captain Kompany but at the end the home side was too strong for the visitor.

Man City Line Up: Caballero, Sagna , Demichelis , Otamendi , Kolarov, Fernandinho, Delph(Fernando 70’), Toure, Sterling(Silva 75’) , De Bruyne, Aguero (Bony 64’)

Southampton Line Up: Stekelenburg, Yoshida, Fonte(Caulker 36’), Van Dijk , Bertrand, Romeu(Tadic 46’), Davis, Ward-Prowse(Juanmi 77’), Wanyama , Mane, Long

Goals: De Bruyne (9’), Delph (20’), Kolarov (69’) and Long(49’)

Man of the match: De Bruyne

Photo by annevancamp