Manchester City have failed to win a Premier League game for the first time since October, drawing 1-1 with Southampton at St Mary’s.
City came into this match 11 points clear at the summit – albeit having played one more game than second-placed Liverpool – having won their last 12 league games on the bounce. That run came under threat after seven minutes, however, when Kyle Walker-Peters scored a fantastic goal to put the hosts ahead.
After a loose pass from Raheem Sterling on the edge of the box, Southampton counter-attacked and Oriol Romeu picked out Walker-Peters on the right with a trademark cross-field ball. Walker-Peters moved it onto Nathan Redmond ahead of him then sprinted into the box to receive the return pass, lashing a shot into the top corner with the outside of his boot.
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The Saints thought they had gone 2-0 up with 22 minutes on the clock when Armando Broja nipped in behind and slotted past Ederson, only for the goal to be chalked off for a narrow offside. City had several good chances of their own before the break, Jack Grealish forcing Fraser Forster to save with his feet and Sterling curling over the crossbar before the latter, having been teed up by Phil Foden, somehow failed to beat the goalkeeper from five yards.

Southampton's English defender Kyle Walker-Peters celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester City at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on January 22, 2022.

Image credit: Getty Images

The second half started at an explosive pace, Jan Bednarek forcing Ederson into a reflex save with an improvised header at a corner before Rodri stung Forster’s palms from outside the area. Once again the hosts nearly doubled their lead through Broja, who was threaded through by Stuart Armstrong only to be denied by Ederson and the covering run of Aymeric Laporte.
Laporte was the saviour for City at the other end not long afterwards, popping up at the far post to nod home a pinpoint free kick from Kevin De Bruyne. City wanted a penalty when De Bruyne was brought down on the edge of the area but VAR declined to intervene following a review – just as it did when Armstrong caught Laporte on the thigh with a high boot moments later – and despite a flurry of late chances the league leaders were denied a 13th straight victory.

TALKING POINT

Should Armstrong have seen red? While VAR checked over both incidents thoroughly, many City fans will be irked by the unawarded penalty, the unawarded red card, or perhaps even both. As ever, the words “clear and obvious error” come into play here.
With the De Bruyne incident, VAR went over numerous replays in attempting to discern whether the initial contact had occurred within the area. When the margins are that fine, it’s hard to see how any error could be clear and obvious. With the red card, City probably have more right to feel aggrieved. While VAR, like any form of refereeing, is subjective, Armstrong’s thigh-high, studs-up challenge could easily have been deemed dangerous as opposed to just reckless.

Jack Grealish (Manchester City) and Oriol Romeu (Southampton)

Image credit: Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH

Mohamed Salisu (Southampton). He was impressive at the back throughout the game but, when Southampton came under sustained pressure following Laporte’s equaliser, Salisu was their rock.
His defensive contribution was epitomised by a crucial block he made to deny Foden in the second half, using nothing but his face. An inch-perfect tackle on De Bruyne in the dying minutes of the match drew a raucous round of applause from the St Mary’s faithful, bolstering the entire team’s morale.

PLAYER RATINGS

Southampton: Forster 8, Walker-Peters 8, Bednarek 7, Salisu 9, Perraud 7, Redmond 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Romeu 8, Armstrong 6, Broja 7, Adams 6
Subs: Elyounoussi 5, Lyanco 6, Diallo 5
Manchester City: Ederson 8, Walker 6, Dias 6, Laporte 7, Cancelo 7, Silva 6, Rodri 6, De Bruyne 8, Sterling 5, Grealish 6, Foden 7
Subs: Jesus 6

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

7’ GOAL! Grealish, Sterling and Foden combine on the edge of the area, but the move breaks down after a wayward pass. Southampton counter-attack, Romeu picking out Walker-Peters on the right. He marauds forwards and moves the ball onto Redmond, charging into the box to receive the return. As City’s defenders converge, he unleashes a fierce shot with the outside of his boot which sails into the top corner to give the hosts the lead.
22’ NO GOAL! It’s a massive shame for Broja, who runs onto Romeu’s through-ball, gets in behind and slots beneath Ederson before wheeling away in celebration. The flag is raised for offside, unfortunately, with the youngster going a fraction of a second too early.
52’ BROJA DENIED! Armstrong plays Broja in behind and he goes one-on-one with Ederson, but the City keeper and Laporte combine to keep the score at 1-0. From the ensuing corner, Broja almost scores again only for referee Simon Hooper to award a foul for an innocuous challenge on Ederson in the air.
65’ GOAL! Adams gives away a free kick and De Bruyne steps up, swinging a delivery to the far post where Laporte is waiting to head home. City are level.
76’ VAR CHECK FOR POSSIBLE PENALTY. De Bruyne goes down under pressure from Salisu and Romeu on the edge of the box. After a long review, VAR decides against awarding a spot kick.
79’ VAR CHECK FOR POSSIBLE RED CARD. Armstrong catches Laporte high on the thigh with his studs showing and receives a booking, but it could get worse for him. Southampton are on the right side of the decision once again, with no red card forthcoming.

KEY STATS

  • As per Opta, De Bruyne has now tallied 80 assists in the Premier League. That’s the same number as David Beckham, but in 68 fewer appearances.
  • The longest run of consecutive Premier League wins still stands at 18, a record set by City in 2017 and matched by Liverpool in 2020.
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