Man City players can mark Pep Guardiola’s drastic title-winning reset at Southampton – Simon Bajkowski


Football quickly changes

The last time Manchester City were at St Mary’s they were at one of their lowest points under the manager.

Pep Guardiola had wanted to cut himself and his players some slack given the challenges they had faced in the first quarter of that season, but had drawn a line after a dismal home draw with West Brom days earlier and pressed the reset button on his team.

City’s manager did not lose faith in his squad, instead returning to previous tactics in order to turn their fortunes around. And while it was a nervy 90 minutes against Southampton in December 2020 – not helped by having to play in front of opposition fans for the first time that season – the Blues held their nerve to pick up the first of what would turn into an astonishing 21 wins in a row in all competitions.

Having made very few changes to the squad in the two transfer windows since, the Blues return in imperious form on the back of 12 straight league victories. A 13th would feel more sweet than unlucky at a ground where the transformation all began last season.

Pressing ahead

City would rather still be in the Carabao Cup, and the final will give either Liverpool or Chelsea some momentum for the final months in the Premier League.

However, one consolation from the Blues not playing in the semi-finals this week is that it has allowed them to play their Premier League game this weekend a day before their main rivals.

While City are expecting Liverpool to maintain their fierce challenge for the title, moving 14 points clear by winning at Southampton will pile the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s side for their two games in hand and remaining fixtures.

De Bruyne in form

Kevin De Bruyne has looked back at his most influential in recent weeks and proved the difference in the top-of-the-table clash with Chelsea.

City go through spells where different players hit top form and get them through games, and when De Bruyne is on song Guardiola tends to have very little to worry about.

One last push

City have plenty of tough weeks ahead before the end of the season but right now there is some clear space ahead of this Southampton game that provides a relief the players are not used to, with no game for a fortnight.

As much as the team is on a roll, having the opportunity to get some time off – particularly after such a demanding schedule. Guardiola will be pushing that incentive to his players as he calls for one last effort before they can enjoy some time off.

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