City sinners narrowly avoid surrendering to Saints – SOUTHAMPTON 1 MAN CITY 1

It all started so brightly. Swift, incisive passing play, Sergio Aguero’s 18th goal of the season, Southampton on the back foot and the usually vociferous St Mary’s crowd well and truly silenced.

It ended with Manchester City hanging on to an extremely hard earned draw as a patched up Saints team, full of unfamiliar names, was roared on by the raw guttural fanaticism of the less than saintly home support.

Mandela Tribute - City's players mark the death of Nelson Mandela before kick off Courtesy @MCFC

Mandela Tribute – City’s players mark the death of Nelson Mandela before kick off Courtesy @MCFC

City had swaggered into the docklands  with expectations of a third away win of the season, but at the final whistle it felt as if  Manuel Pellegrini’s men had smuggled a point from this turbulent encounter.

This was a game of contrasting halves, as reflected by the after match comments of a Saints fan: “In the first half City fans were by far the loudest away support we’d heard here for a long time…but were as quiet as church mice in the second.”

He was right, the reason being that City somehow contrived to surrender the initiative, always seemed last to the ‘second ball’ and looked susceptible to crashing to a fifth away defeat at any moment.

Southampton fans confessed they had feared a mauling from Manuel’s marauders and, had the usually clinical Aguero not blazed the ball over after being set by the tireless Zabaleta, it could well have come.

Yes yes Sergio - Yaya congratulates goal number 18 for Aguero Courtesy @MCFC

Yes yes Sergio – Yaya congratulates goal number 18 for Aguero Courtesy @MCFC

At 2-0 down and heading for a fourth consecutive defeat, Southampton might have been suitably suppressed. As it was Dani Osvaldo’s beautifully sculptured 42nd minute equaliser ignited the powder keg of a stadium and City never regained control.

The Italian hitman, a £15m acquisition from Roma, did a proper ‘job’ on, of all people, Vincent Kompany, turning him inside and out, before an exquisite curling shot eluded City’s giant keeper Costel Pantilimon.

Bad company - Saints' striker Osvaldo turned Kompany for the equaliser Courtesy @MCFC

Bad company – Saints’ striker Osvaldo turned Kompany for the equaliser Courtesy @MCFC

Arguably, had Pants attempted to save with his left, rather than his right hand, he might – just might – have palmed it to safety.

The Romanian stopper has done little wrong since succeeding Joe Hart in goal, following Hart’s howling lack of judgement at Chelsea. But – and it’s a huge BUT – the time has come to restore Joe to the team IF he has a long-term future at the club.

City’s goalkeeping debate has caused genuine division in the sky blue support.

I fear Pellegrini does not rate England’s number one and Joe will be on his way in the summer. This would be a travesty for a young man who has suffered a blip in form, hardly helped by a defence which at times doesn’t know if it’s having a sh*t, shave or a haircut!

Speaking of which, why oh why does Pellegrini have this blind faith in Martin Demichelis? Undisputedly a fine player in his day, the veteran Argentine wears a pony tail on matchdays…donkeys also sport tails!

Pin the tail on the donkey - Demichelis struggled at Southampton Courtesy @:MCFC

Pin the tail on the donkey – Demichelis struggled at Southampton Courtesy @:MCFC

Never would I boo a player in City colours but the man bearing number 26 has all the speed of a three-legged mule and the passing prowess of the aforementioned ‘burro’.

The sooner an in-form Matija Nastasic is back to partner Vincent Kompany the better. A splash in the January transfer market for a top quality centre back wouldn’t go amiss if City really want their a second Premier League title in three years.

Joleon Lescott appears to be another England international to be heading for the Etihad exit and yet Pellegrini has so often opted for Javi Garcia as a makeshift centre back.

Garcia looks great…in a Boss suit, but put him in a City strip and he dissolves into a nigh on unmitigated disaster. If City are to land a major trophy this season they must act next month to put some steel into a brittle defence or a masking agent – a solid defensive midfielder.

Winging it - Aguero is flying this season but he did miss a great chance for City's second Courtesy @MCFC

Winging it – Aguero is flying this season but he did miss a great chance for City’s second Courtesy @MCFC

Back to more pressing matters at St Mary’s and the after match verdict that this was a point gained rather than two lost. It looks much healthier in context with unexpected defeats for Manure and Chelski.

Sergio and Yaya came close to beating novice Saints keeper Paulo Gazzaniga with second half strikes. Conversely Pantilimon saved at the feet of Rodriquez after the England new boy weaved through City’s rearguard and Osvaldo blasted high and wide.

Southampton’s outstanding prospect Luke Shaw must have caught the eye of City powerbrokers Soriano and Begiristain at a time when the left back berth is under scrutiny.

It was the present incumbent – Aleksander Kolarov – who flashed a precision cross into the Southampton box in the 10th minute for Aguero to smash home the opening goal. Sadly, City didn’t notch goal number 42 of the season and take the spoils.

Blunt Beast - Negredo drew a blank with the Southampton defence Courtesy @MCFC

Blunt Beast – Negredo drew a blank with the Southampton defence Courtesy @MCFC

If City can take 19 of 21 PL points up for grabs this month they will be perfectly placed for top slot and a New Year assault on the title. Fearsome and formidable at home, City will have to be at their best to take down Arsenal and Liverpool and far from complacent against a slightly resurgent Crystal Palace.

Nor, in this most unpredictable of seasons, should they think turning up at Craven Cottage just before Christmas means a gift-wrapped win.

City now travel to Bavaria to take on Bayern Munich – a game which at one stage looked like a prospective humdinger but is now actually a just about dead rubber.

It only has meaning if City can overturn the European Champions by three clear goals in their own backyard and, at the same time, have us all believing there is a Father Christmas.

Judgement days - Pellegrini picks Demichelis over Lescott and Pantilimon over Hart  Courtesy @MCFC

Judgement days – Pellegrini picks Demichelis over Lescott and Pantilimon over Hart Courtesy @MCFC

Pellegrini will undoubtedly send out a makeshift City team to try and achieve a positive outcome, but not to the detriment of three very precious points against Arsenal.

Europe can wait. It’s matters here in England that need tending to with plenty of bulldog spirit, albeit with Englishman such as Hart and Lescott few and far between.

 

 

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker #READBUTNEVERRED @djwskyblu

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