James Ward-Prowse scored early for Saints, who looked better fit for battle. They remain in the drop zone with 8 points.
City’s 25 points are still six points back of Liverpool, who grabbed a stoppage time winner at Aston Villa.
Three things we learned
1. Ederson not perfect: It took plenty of rain for it to happen, but Man City goalkeeper Ederson made a rare error to put his team down early. Stuart Armstrong‘s bounding shot from distance didn’t have a ton of venom, but enough to provide a rebound for a prowling James Ward-Prowse to deposit.
2. Trailing, Guardiola turns to Aguero and Jesus: The Man City mastermind rarely plays Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero at the same time, but felt it was time when his side trailed at the break. Their lack of time together was evident as Aguero tried to set up Jesus in the 59th, and the Brazilian didn’t recognize the signal. Aguero, of course, got the equalizer.
3. Stout Saints make cliche count… for a while: It’s hard to beat the same team twice in a row, and Southampton will made their supporters plenty proud over 180 minutes versus the champs, minutes that followed a 9-0 home drubbing against Leicester City. The aforementioned cliche a saying often uttered in sports circles and an illogical tag we’ll have to put on City’s first 70 minutes. But there was an air of inevitability to Man City finding the winner, which came from a cross despite much success coming via standard Guardiola-inspired incisiveness.
So, crosses. City crossed from open play 31 times in the defeat at Norwich, and 30 times against Wolves. At half-time against Southampton the tally is…. 30.
Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson got goals for Eddie Howe‘s side during a wonderfully dominant first-half performance before the roles were reversed in the second half. James Ward-Prowse pulled Southampton back to 2-1 not long after halftime and Saints pressed and pressed for an equalizer but ultimately came up empty. To make matters worse, Callum Wilson put the game away on a late Saints howler.
3 things we learned
Slow starts for Saints — Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. For a team that’s built around the idea of defensive solidity and limiting chances, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side appears especially limited once forced to change its plan of attack and… well, attack. In the two games they didn’t concede first, two clean sheets and two wins.
Halftime adjustments — Hasenhuttl certainly got his tactics wrong from the start, but whatever was said at halftime made a noticeable difference in the second half. Given loads more freedom to push forward in attack and to win back possession, Southampton made it a game from 45:01 onward.
Making few chances count a lot — Bournemouth needed just six shots to get their two goals. On the other hand, they managed just six shots in 90 minutes. Highly efficient, or lacking in overall production? Both, perhaps?
Ake put the Cherries ahead in the 10th minute, rising high above the crowd to get his head to Diego Rico‘s corner kick. It was Bournemouth’s fifth goal (of nine scored) from a set piece this season.
It didn’t take long for Bournemouth to easily cut through Saints’ four-man backline — a tactical change from the three-man operation which secured a victory away to Sheffield United last weekend — and put the ball in the back of the net again. Joshua King finished a devastating counter-attack with a sublime finish, only to have the goal taken off the board for being narrowly offside, via video review.
Once again, Bournemouth met little resistance en route to doubling their lead, only this time the goal stood. Philip Billing got to the endline down the left side of Saints’ penalty area and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Wilson was waiting to sweep it past a helpless Angus Gunn.
Saints were gifted their way back into the game in the 52nd minute, when Steve Cook went straight through Che Adams as Southampton broke down the left side of the box. Ward-Prowse stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball past Aaron Ramsdale to cut the deficit in half.
Saints’ best chance at drawing level came in the 82nd minute, but Ward-Prowse was denied Ramsdale from close range, and though he spilled the rebound in front of goal, Bournemouth were able to clear the ball away in just the nick of time.
Gunn and center back Jannik Vestergaard ran into one another outside the Saints penalty area in the 95th minute, allowing Wilson to pick the ball up and walk it over the end line for the late exclamation point on Bournemouth’s historic night.
Bournemouth’s defensive desperation was such that they attempted just the six shots in the game, including zero between the 38th and 85th minutes. Alas, Saints couldn’t find the equalizer and Bournemouth catapulted all the way up to third in the PL, for the time being.
There’s a debate to be had there, and it’s been had plenty, but it has us thinking: Which player is the most indispensable for each of the “Big Six” in their quest for a successful PL season?
It’s going to be a defender heavy list.
Tough one, here, and we may be just a few months of consistent performances from changing the answer to Tanguy Ndombele (Yes, he looks that good).
But this one’s down to two players. It’s not a defender, as Spurs have three dynamite center backs and the drop-offs between full backs don’t hold wide-enough margins.
It’s between the Harrys (Harries? Anyway, “Between the Harries” sounds like we just started a new reality show).
Don’t be misled by Spurs’ remarkable job making up for the loss of Harry Kane to injury late last season; the big striker is still on history-making pace for his young-enough career. Since becoming a full-time starter, Kane has 162 goals in 241 matches. Would you believe he’s not 27 until next summer?
Harry Winks is the ball-possessing, clean-passing motor that so many teams crave for their midfield. He’s been a 90-plus percentage passer in every season, and has completed 94 percent this early season. Again, small sample size, but his 75 passes per game trails Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte, Granit Xhaka, Paul Pogba, and teammate Toby Alderweireld.
It’s almost a coin flip here. We’re taking Kane, but we’re basing it on a tiebreaker of advanced statistics. Anyone making an argument for the 23-year-old Winks deserves to be heard.
This is perhaps the trickiest call of the bunch.
Anthony Martial has been far and away the most important player to the Red Devils’ early season, sputtering as it may be, but it’s far too soon to say he’s irreplaceable.
The fact of the matter, and this belies United’s plight, is that United is too thin to have a single player who would hurt the most to lose; Forced to choose one, we’ll say Maguire as he’s the most proven consistent entity of the bunch.
Another tough one, though it seems like it should be an easy one: N’Golo Kante. But he’s still finding his footing under Frank Lampard and last season wasn’t a great one as Maurizio Sarri messed with a great recipe by moving Kante from his role of pure opposition destruction.
The Gunners are very thin at center back, but the problem is that the starters aren’t stars.
So we’ll proffer one that’s a bit out of the box: Bernd Leno. The goalkeeper has been pretty darn good considering his team has offered very little resistance to attacks. His back-ups are Emiliano Martinez and Matt Macey. There’s no rule stating one of those two wouldn’t be a good starter, but they have six PL appearances between them (all Martinez).
Mohamed Salah is the straw that stirs the drink, but the Reds have a very good attackers behind him (both young and experienced) and made a run to the Champions League and a record league point total while he was not exactly thriving in form (Salah had a lone goal in an eight-match league run over February and March, and missed the incredible Barcelona comeback with a concussion).
The idea of it being Alisson Becker is interesting, but for Liverpool supporters that is probably fueled more by watching substandard keepers derail their dreams for a couple of years. For a neutral and especially for stat hounds, it’s not as big of a drop to Adrian as it seems (but it’s big).
We may want to revisit this discussion in January regarding Fabinho, but Liverpool is very deep in the midfield, too. It’s Van Dijk, and it’s not close.
It was a combination of a few things, the first obviously being the players’ quality. The PFA Team of the Year winner helped City lower its goals conceded total in his first full season at the Etihad, as City won almost every competition it entered in 2018-19.
An argument could be made for Ederson simply based on the keeper’s quality in possession and shot-stopping alone but no other position, really; City may have had to work harder for the title last season with Kevin De Bruyne injured, but it found an answer largely through Bernardo Silva. Leroy Sane looked like City’s MVP two seasons ago, but Raheem Sterling emerged as the club’s best wide man and there’s some guy named Mahrez behind him.
Laporte, it is (And if you want to really get into the nexus of this article, and why the stats say there is a big drop-off from Laporte to even John Stones, let alone a third wheel, check here. Also, I’ve learned that City fans vastly under-appreciate Otamendi).
Saints have four points for the season, while United have five points as they head into the international break.
3 things we learned
1. United’s lack of control alarming: The way United failed to grab this game by the scruff of the neck sums up where they are at right now. After scoring early to take the lead, they sat back and Paul Pogba‘s sloppy passing epitomized their disjointed approach. Defensively they were solid enough, but Marcus Rashford didn’t get into the game at all and there is still no real identity to this young United side.
2. Saints’ high press tough to handle: Early on in both halves Southampton forced United back and their intense high-pressing couldn’t be matched. Hasenhuttl’s side look fit after a full preseason under his tutelage and even though they didn’t keep the ball well when they won it back, they got in the faces of United and it worked a treat.
3. Daniel James a menace: Three goals in his first four Premier League games is a great return for the Welsh 21-year-old. Aside from his goals, James’ pace causes so many issues and had he been a little more composed in the second half he could have scored a winner. What a bargain buy he is.
Man of the Match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Superb one-on-one defending against Boufal, and a threat going forward. Another superb display from United’s new right back, who looked confident after his first-ever England call up.
Saints started well as Sofiane Boufal flashed a shot inches wide, but Man United took the lead against the run of play.
James was found on the edge of the box by Scott McTominay and then cut inside and smashed a shot into the far top corner to make it 1-0.
United were rampant for the rest of the first half as James forced Angus Gunn into a smart save, Wan-Bissaka flashed an effort over and Rashford was growing into the game.