You possibly can’t say he did not warn us.
Pep Guardiola’s perceived plea for a bigger Etihad attendance, following Manchester Metropolis’s Champions League victory over RB Leipzig in midweek, additionally included a grave warning for the go to of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton.
“We can be drained,” he instructed BT Sport. “I do know the crew from Ralph is sort of related [to Leipzig], the best way they play. They’re so, so harmful with good high quality and it is a actually essential sport for us.”
Guardiola, not for the primary time in his profession, was confirmed proper. Southampton claimed a hard-fought level to attract 0-0 on Saturday afternoon, in entrance of a close to sell-out crowd (at the least that remark was heeded).
These dropped factors – which, given Southampton’s spectacular show, may be extra aptly framed as one level gained – go away City winless in half of their final 18 Premier League matches following a Champions League tie.
Jesse Marsch’s Leipzig had been capable of bloody Metropolis’s nostril in a helter-skelter 6-3 thriller in midweek however had been convincingly outgunned by the conclusion. Southampton, conversely, and in contrast to nearly all of the few opponents Metropolis do drop factors towards, had been properly price their share of the spoils.
Regardless of 5 modifications to the beginning XI that duked it out three days earlier, Metropolis regarded jaded and disjointed, mustering only one shot on track all sport – and that did not come till the ninetieth minute, from the second section of a nook.
Southampton, enjoying a courageous excessive block that smothered Metropolis’s passing choices when enjoying out from the again, denied their hosts a shot of any sort within the opening 20 minutes. Guardiola was fast to pinpoint the struggles his crew had been brought on by a well-drilled opponent post-match: “We draw a sport towards opponent that defended very well and have good high quality gamers within the center,” he instructed NBC.
“It was a good sport. We weren’t snug in our construct up. We misplaced extra balls than traditional and created a sense that we weren’t good.”
Guardiola was pressured into changing Rodri with Fernandinho after the Spain worldwide may solely muster an hour in midweek. The dearth of fluency in that altered space of the pitch did not escape the Catalan: “We didn’t win as a result of the balls ahead weren’t good. It’s as a result of we didn’t do our course of with the again 4 and Fernandinho. These 5 gamers must convey the ball ahead for the others.”
Previous to Saturday’s stalemate, Metropolis led the league in PPDA (a proxy for urgent which measures the variety of opposition passes allowed earlier than a crew applies a defensive motion – the decrease the quantity, the extra intense the urgent) with simply 7.31 – paying homage to the stifling type of 2017-19 (per UnderStat).
Towards Southampton, with half the outfielders maybe a little bit heavier-legged, Metropolis allowed the guests 11.53 passes earlier than placing a foot in. Nevertheless, fatigue did not solely have an effect on the physique in keeping with Guardiola: “Right this moment we didn’t have the freshness in our thoughts. I wouldn’t say in our legs, in our thoughts. It’s a pity.”
Because the 2019/20 season, Metropolis have solely collected a mean of 1.8 factors in matches following their European excursions – a hefty plummet in comparison with the two.3 factors per sport from their different Premier League fixtures on this interval.
For comparability, Liverpool – who strolled to a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace whereas Metropolis toiled away towards the Saints – have misplaced simply one in all their 19 post-Europe matches, gathering 2.3 factors per sport in the identical timeframe.
Had Jonathan Moss not been directed over to the pitch-side display and overturned Kyle Walker’s purple card and penalty an hour in, issues may have been made a lot worse for Metropolis – though the hosts had been denied a aim by the identical overview system on the demise.
Ultimately a draw was the least Southampton’s stifling deserved as Guardiola’s premonition got here to the fore. Seems he could know a factor or two in regards to the lovely sport.