June 18, 2021

‘The best team we’ve faced here’ – Guardiola praises Southampton’s lightning start against Man City despite 5-2 defeat

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The Citizens have moved 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League after clinching victory over Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side

Southampton gave Manchester City their hardest period of the season at Etihad Stadium, Pep Guardiola insisted following their 5-2 victory on Wednesday night.

City moved 14 points clear at the top of the table as they got back to winning ways after their 21-game winning streak was ended by defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

The Saints gave City huge problems until Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored twice and Ilkay Gundogan added another to make the scoreline more flattering.

Why were Southampton so good?

Guardiola was annoyed in his pre-match news conference about the possibility of Southampton suffering a third 9-0 defeat in two years, and he was justified as the Saints started well on Wednesday evening.

Southampton dominated possession and controlled the opening 25 minutes of their clash before De Bruyne’s opening goal came against the run of play.

The visitors had three-quarters of possession in the opening exchanges as they passed the ball around Etihad Stadium with confidence despite winning just once in their last 11 Premier League matches.

What’s been said?

“The first 20 to 25 minutes, they were the best team we’ve faced here,” Guardiola said after the game. “Only respect and admiration for Ralph [Hasenhuttl’s] team.

“We suffered a lot to control them. We could not do good build-up because we could not contact with the holding midfielders. They were brilliant and today was won why the quality of the players we have.

“A tough game but one more victory. One game more we are 14 clear, nine games to play so Fulham – next one.” 

What’s next for City?

City need six victories from their remaining nine matches to be certain of a third Premier League title in four years.

They travel to relegation-threatened Fulham on Saturday, which is their last Premier League game before the international break.

Focus then switches to the cup competitions with the Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Borussia Monchengladbach followed by the FA Cup quarter-final against Everton.

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