By Coral Barry
Raheem Sterling’s finishing is way off the standard required, Fabian Delph looks a cut below Champions League calibre level and other things we learned from Manchester City 3 Southampton 1.
Still missing: Sterling’s shooting boots
Sterling will win surely hoover up trophies in Manchester but if he wants to become a world class player, which he is certainly capable of being, he has to hone his penalty box play. The £49million signing continued his trend of wasting chances by snatching at another couple of opportunities today. Against Southampton, Sterling’s pace and tenacity gave him space and regular sights of goal, but he lacked the composure to beat Maarten Stekelenburg. Sterling must work extra hard on his finishing as it is clearly not his best attribute.
Delph could be the next Sinclair
Fabian Delph could be the next Sinclair. Not Trevor, but Scott, the Roberto Mancini signing who spent a few seasons picking up a fat salary but doing little else of note. It remains to be seen whether Delph can carve out a more memorable City career. He took advantage of his first City start by scoring the second of his team’s three goals – via a deflection – and acquitted himself reasonably alongside Fernandinho in central midfield. Delph’s best chance regular football is for Yaya Toure to no longer be trusted as part of a midfield two. Otherwise, there could be another terrible waste of English talent.
City’s injuries threaten to derail their ambitions
City’s two major ambitions – the Premier League title and a strong Champions League challenge – are under severe threat because of injuries. Only five times this season have Joe Hart, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero all be on the pitch for City. Goalkeeper Hart became the latest casualty in midweek, while Aguero limped off again in the second half. City are a different animal with the key quartet in their team and can compete with anyone in the world. They need them back all firing.
Caballero bails out City’s wayward defence
The Citizens were in control and cruising before their defence switched off. A quick free-kick by Southampton completely bamboozled the dozing City back four and before they knew it Tadic’s sweet cross found the head of the powerful Shane Long. It made for a nervy second half and City were saved only by Southampton’s hopelessness at the back. Nicolas Otmendi came in for the injured Eliaquim Mangala to partner Martin Demichelis and, at times, the defending was evert bit as messy as in last weekend’s capitulation against Liverpool. Too slow, too hesitant, the two centre-backs relied heavily on the impressive Willy Caballero to make a handful of important saves, including a quick double save from Tadic and Long in the box, before City got their third goal. Kompany’s absence is being keenly felt.
The Saints not signing quiet as loud
After selling virtually their entire squad last season and replacing their prized manager with the unknown Ronald Koeman, Southampton really surprised everyone finishing seventh. So far though a kind of second season syndrome has set in. A slow start to the campaign was eventually turned around with three wins on the bounce, but now the Saints have suffered back-to-back defeats to Stoke and City. They were nervous today and made endless mistakes. Yoshida was robbed by Sterling for the opening goal and it didn’t get better from there for Southampton. They beat Arsenal at home last year and Manchester United at home, but it doesn’t look like they’ll reach those heights this time round.
By Coral Barry