The undying Art Of giant Killing

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Reviews
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What captures one’s fantasy is when the underdog outdoes the front runner and shocks the world in more ways than one.

Southampton versus Manchester City. It was just going to be another field day for the current Premier League champions, but it turned out to be a rather feisty affair instead.

To put the stature of the two clubs into perspective, let’s look at the highest transfer fee paid by each club for a player in the modern era.

Southampton v Manchester City - Premier League

Manchester City spent a mammoth 38 million for Sergio Aguero in 2011. Southampton also splurged a considerably large amount of 12 million for former Bologna playmaker Gaston Ramirez in 2012.

However, the club struggling around the bottom of the table defeated the champions by a mocking 3-1 scoreline.

The first goal resulted from good work by the pacy Puncheon on the right wing. He passed it to Jay Rodriguez to tuck in; the shot was parried by Joe Hart but Puncheon latched onto the rebound and scored.

One just couldn’t ignore Southampton’s new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s animated antics around the technical area. The Argentine was relishing every bit of his team’s brilliant performance…

To City’s dismay, things were going to get worse.

That goal was a calling for City’s big stars to prove their worth. For the multi-million pound signings to showcase their skills and vindicate their price tag. Nearly everybody expected City to get going, but how wrong were they…

Southampton looked more comfortable on the ball. Yes, when I say that I mean Steven Davies and Morgan Schneiderlin were holding play and providing better delivery for their forwards then Yaya Toure and David Silva. They had the essence of solidity which City lacked throughout the match.

City’s summer signing Javi Garcia looked out of sorts; he just couldn’t find his role. You know, could’ve been the weather. It never snows in Spain now, does it?

Joe Hart had recently saved a Ronaldinho penalty in a midweek international fixture against Brazil. As amazing as that is, not everybody is able to parry away a regular shot by Southampton’s bulky forward Ricky Lambert.  Hart spilled a shot by Lambert into the path of a deserving Steven Davies, who happily tucked it into the net.

Southampton’s engine endeared himself to the fans, while Hart and Mancini watched helplessly. Mancini’s effort to encourage and inspire his team proved rather futile, as City slumped into a more deplorable condition.

City’s talismanic playmaker David Silva just couldn’t recreate his magic in the early stages of the game. As the half progressed he started to look better; trying to deliver defense-piercing passes into the Southampton box.

All that pressure finally rewarded the Citizens with their first goal, as Dzeko scored off a ball by Pablo Zabaleta just before the break. The always revered comeback was on…

And then, Gareth Barry scored, no, not for the Citizens, but for the Saints. One of the most horrendously funny own goals ever. Lambert produced a fairly weak grounded cross from the left and Gareth Barry incomprehensibly passed it to the bottom right of his own net.

Southampton v Manchester City - Premier League

The City fans looked flustered, and so did Mancini. From that moment on, City needed something special; usually that someone special is the giant form of Yaya Toure.

Yaya Toure, another one of Mancini’s multi-million pound signings, justified his price tag in the first half. He did what he does best, bossing the midfield, breaking up play and holding the ball well. As the game reached the 65th minute mark, he started looking increasingly fatigued. Even the ever so dependable Toure looked listless after that point. The demanding nature of the Premier League and the recent African championship finally started influencing Toure’s performance.

What Mancini could’ve done is substituted him, but he didn’t. A livelier Jack Rodwell or Scott Sinclair could’ve certainly provided more than a sluggish Toure, whose legs had literally given up.

A desperate Mancini threw everything forward. Then, the Italian produced a masterstroke. He substituted in two fullbacks in the form of Maicon and Kolarov to replace the two most creative City players on the field, Silva and Nasri.

Again, one wonders why he would take such an absurd decision when a natural winger and an attacking midfielder had been warming the bench, craving for opportunities. All this is evidence as to how Mancini is slowly losing his head.Image

Is it Mario again Mr. Mancini? remember how Mancini salvaged the troublesome youngster from Inter Milan in the summer of 2010?

Southampton defended like knights fighting for glory and recognition. While Aguero and Dzeko tried and tried, Hoovield and Maya Yoshida defended with an unforgiving vibe in their play. Southampton reigned supreme in every part of the field. Manchester City looked sordid, as if their engine was rusted.

What Southampton did was that they simply flooded the midfield. While other teams in the Premier League mostly sit back and defend against the champions, they didn’t. Mauricio Pochettino exuded an aura of faith and trust in his team that most managers fail to do against the bigger teams around Europe. It elevated Southampton’s belief, and that certainly showed on the battlefield.


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