Sunday October 23rd 13:30 GMT
It’s been a wild week for Manchester City and new boss, Pep Guardiola. Having arrived in England to much fanfare, his expensively-assembled side swept aside all before them in a 10 match winning streak across all competitions.
The King had arrived. Or so you would be led to believe by the hysteria machine. A closer examination would have noted that, Manchester Utd aside, all of their league wins were against teams in the bottom half of the table.
The first bump in the road
Their first real test came when they visited Tottenham Hotspur at the beginning of the month and it’s no exaggeration to say that they were well beaten on the day, all too easily worked out by the Spurs brain trust. Following that they tried their hardest to beat Everton but gifted Romelu Lukaku a chance that he gratefully accepted whilst missing two penalties of their own and eventually having to settle for a draw.
Then came the pothole
Then came Barcelona. And then came Messi. One match ball later and with a late goal for Neymar, the 4-0 score line will dominate most memory of the game. Another sliver that will make its way through was Pep’s decision to leave Sergio Aguero on the bench for this game, a move that may not exactly haunt him but has certainly given ammunition a’ plenty to his critics who have savaged the manager for leaving his ace marksmen on the bench.
An awful amount of nonsense surrounds this type of criticism, as if Guardiola was just doing an Icarus, getting all high on the hubris. Of course it goes without saying that no-one likes a smart arse but is that all Guardiola is? His achievements in the game would suggest otherwise but there can be little doubt that his particular fundamentalism did neither he nor his team any favours when up against a Barcelona team which boasted a cobbled together defense, whatever about their talents upfront.
New captain, same ship
This column is often fulsome in its praise of Southampton and the clear direction they seem to follow as a club. After having lost the not inconsiderable talents of Ronald Koeman to Everton, the club decided to go with the relatively unknown French man, Claude Puel, and things have been kept ticking along nicely. At the time of writing, Southampton have just lost away to Inter in the Europa League in a match they might easily have won.
Getting it right
Having conceded just two goals in their last eight matches, they are defensively strong and are posing a serious threat up top as striker, Charlie Austin, is banging them in left, right and centre. After taking just four points from the opening four games, the Saints have taken 10 from a possible 12 since and are one of the form teams in the league.
So does that mean that they have a chance against City? This column thinks it does, yes. City are a fairly manic team at the moment. There’s no denying that they’re capable of mesmerizing stuff but there are so many pieces out of place and they could really have done with an easier match to come back to in the league than this one. It goes without saying that they are favourites but the draw or a Saints’ win are worth looking at. This column is going for the win at a price of 34/5 from MarathonBet.