Manchester City are just manage to keep Liverpool in their sights after Kyle Walker’s late winner against Southampton on Saturday, meaning the reigning champions are just six points behind Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Unlike last season, City are being made to work for their wins this season while manager Pep Guardiola praised their patience and attacking intensity after training to an early James Ward-Prouse goal.
The reigning champions probed the Southampton defence but were unable to find a way through until Argentine Sergio Aguero equalised after 70 minutes before defender Walker won it for Manchester City four minutes from time.
“Southampton defended with 11 men in the 18-yard box so there were no spaces to attack,” said Guardiola. “We just had to be patient, putting in crosses and trying to win the second balls, but at the same time we were constantly attacking and were very aggressive in our actions.
“In the second half we had maybe 30 or 35 minutes where we were so intense in our actions. It was not easy, but that is why we did it and could make the comeback in the end.”
Despite conceding nine goals to Leicester City last weekend, Southampton made Manchester City work for their three points with a defensive masterclass.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side sat narrow and packed the penalty area, forcing Guardiola’s Manchester City to play it wide and put crosses into the box, something the Saints were happy with.
Playing against a defence like this is perhaps Manchester City’s downfall but it does go to show they have that winning mentality and the never give up attitude. When up against a deep and narrow defence like on Saturday, it’s evident that City do struggle.
Leroy Sane’s absence through injury is evident and the German is exactly the player that City need back if they’re going to challenge Liverpool for the title. At the minute, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva & Co. have been tasked with sitting narrow and thus not being able to thread the ball through against a deep defensive line.
“There was no space, it was almost impossible but we did it and that is why I am delighted,” added Guardiola. “We played incredible from the first minute until the end. We created an incredible amount of chances. We were pressured but we did it. We kept our cool and we were patient. We know we will always get chances, it was important that we stayed calm ahead.”
Guardiola’s City head to Italy in midweek for their Champions League fixture against Atalanta before their Premier League clash against Klopp’s Liverpool. City would perhaps be suited to playing Liverpool more so than Southampton, but this is a must win game by all means.
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