Southampton 1-3 Manchester City: Premier League – as it happened

Two goals on the stroke of half-time pulled Manchester City out of trouble and earned a 3-1 win at Southampton, closing the gap with Liverpool at the top to seven points

There’s more football coming up for you now ... that’s the beauty of this time of year. Join yer man Jacob Steinberg again for Manchester United v Bournemouth – live!

And with that, I leave you. Thanks for your company and, in advance, a very happy new year to you all.

And here, courtesy of our man on the scene David Hytner, is the match report from the one we’ve just feasted our eyes on:

Who’s going to go down? I think Huddersfield will, but then it gets tricky. Everyone else seems to pick up a result or two just as things are getting really hairy – or, like Saints, lose a game or two just as things are picking up. I really couldn’t call it.

Speaking of Burnley 2-0 West Ham, here is Paul Wilson’s match report from Turf Moor!

Comfortable for City in the end, then, thanks to those two goals right at the end of the first half. The Ward-Prowse own goal, in particular, was a massive stroke of luck at a time when they were really rocking. Perhaps those moments can swing a season back in your favour; regardless, they are now seven points behind Liverpool, and we all know who they’re hosting on Thursday ...

For Saints, regret both that they started slowly and that they let things slip at that crucial period before the break. They really ripped into City during that 15 minutes before that, scoring a goal that had all the hallmarks of the intensity Hasenhuttl wants. The second half brought them little encouragement though, and Burnley’s 2-0 win over West Ham means they are only out of a relegation zone on goal difference.

Full-time: Southampton 1-3 Manchester City

City get back on track – and now for Liverpool!

90+2 min: We are in the penultimate minute of added time. Red card aside, this half has been a non-event really.

90+1 min: Long gives chase, in typical fashion, to a ball down the right channel and is bundled over by Laporte. Last, last, last chance for Saints to make this interesting for a few minutes – it’s a good position, this. In fact they come reasonably close, the cross from Ward-Prowse plonked onto Long’s head, but he can’t control the header and it flies well over.

88 min: Some of those challenges from Southampton had courted trouble before – I’m thinking Austin’s in particular. They’re clearly frustrated. There’s been absolutely no way back into the game for them when, at 1-1, they looked buoyant.

86 min: That’s it for Fernandinho, although he wasn’t badly hurt. He’s replaced by Kyle Walker but that’s more to give the England man some minutes, I expect.

Red card – Hojbjerg (Southampton)

Saints’ goalscorer and best player on the day blots his copybook badly, going in hard and late – and over the ball – as Fernandinho takes it past him. He clips the City player’s shin and firmer contact could have made it even worse. It’s a straight red and there are few complaints as he trots off.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fouls Fernandinho.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fouls Fernandinho. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Southampton (not pictured) is shown a red card
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Southampton (not pictured) is shown a red card Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

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84 min: Here is another City change – a late runout for Leroy Sane in Mahrez’s stead.

81 min: What’s this? A Saints corner! They’ve not laid a glove on City since the half, but is there something for them here? Hojbjerg sets his sights from fully 35 yards as it’s headed back out to him and his effort is on target, but no real trouble.

80 min: McCarthy saves Saints yet again, standing up to thwart Mahrez after a wonderful ball from Laporte to Jesus and a through-ball from the sub.

78 min: Kompany is getting unnecessarily feisty and concedes a free-kick, albeit on halfway, after grappling with Long. Danilo then piles in on Redmond and is the latest in this spurt of bookings. If this is all an attempt to make things interesting it seems a bit far-fetched.

74 min: City’s latest corner ends in an overhit cross by Sterling, which sees McCarthy fouled by an again-overzealous Kompany.

73 min: Now it’s a booking for Bednarek, who quite blatantly pulled back Aguero. That is the last we’ll see of the Argentinian, whose header has made this half far less interesting; he’s withdrawn and here, indeed, is Jesus.

72 min: Things liven up a touch, Kompany picking up a yellow card for a meaty challenge. Perhaps it will get livelier still when Gabriel Jesus joins us, as he shortly will.

70 min: We’re at the looks-like-it-is-going-to-fizzle-out-from-here stage of the game now.

68 min: A third Saints change – Shane Long replacing Austin, who could and should have broken the deadlock aeons ago.

65 min: Valery’s first action is to pursue Sterling inside the box and – it seems – *not* get anything on the ball. I think that is a penalty but, like Saints earlier, City get nothing. It was the better of the two shouts, I’d say.

63 min: Aguero is *very* close to making it four after sliding to meet a Sterling cross-shot at the far post, but Ward-Prowse does just enough to stop it squirming in.

61 min: Mahrez has a shot blocked for a corner. I’ve spoken too soon before but I really can’t see City letting this go now; they’ve returned to their earlier levels of total control.

59 min: A frustrated-looking Austin is booked for a nasty one through the back of Fernandinho. And Valery does indeed come on – but not for Ramsay. It’s Romeu who comes on and I assume Saints will play with a back five – or three if you like – now. Instantly City attack and Aguero, receiving the quickly-taken free-kick, spins 16 yards out and clips the bar with a fizzing left-foot drive!

Southampton’s Charlie Austin receives a yellow card
Southampton’s Charlie Austin receives a yellow card Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

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58 min: It is definitely a baptism of fire for young Ramsay against Sterling here. He’s not having an easy time of it, to say the very least, but is sticking to his task. I suspect Yan Valery, who is getting ready on the bench, will replace him soon.

55 min: McCarthy makes his third fine save of the game after Sterling, sent through by a 1-2 with David Silva, bears down on goal. In fact it struck his head! There are more goals here for City if they fancy it, I think.

52 min: Laporte heads Silva’s delivery over – it was a decent area but, in fairness, a bit behind him.

51 min: A City corner, won after a lovely lofted pass from Fernandinho to Sterling, comes to nought – but they do win a free-kick in a dangerous left-sided position straight afterwards.

50 min: Redmond gives the ball straight to Mahrez, who will be in on goal if Sterling can get the ball back to him but Saints just about smuggle it clear.

48 min: The home fans are a bit testy, sighing again as Stephens lumps one out of play. Perhaps it’s the accumulation of disappointments in the past year. Too early in this game to down tools, I’d say.

Mario Lemina of Southampton is blocked by Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko
Mario Lemina of Southampton is blocked by Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

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46 min: They make a positive start, though, Hojbjerg looking to double his tally with a speculative 25-yarder that Ederson dives to hold.

Peeeeep! Saints start us off again

It’s a long way back for them now, though ...

Saints make a change at the interval. Nathan Redmond replaces Mario Lemina, of whom we saw little in the first half. He purposefully strides on and places the ball in the centre circle.

Premier League referees are impartial.

I forgot what it’s like when big clubs’ fans start arguing with each other.

Southampton’s fans – more so than the players, it seems – were still furious about that penalty non-award as the players came off. Was that the game’s turning point? I think there was some contact but it looked faint and a bit of a six-of-one situation.

Half-time: Southampton 1-3 Manchester City

Well. For half an hour this looked as simple an afternoon as City will have. But Saints roared back, equalised and looked the likelier – before that sickening, and deeply unfortunate, double blow right at the end of the half.

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Goal! Southampton 1-3 Manchester City (Aguero 45+3)

That’s why they’re champions. Zinchenko crosses from fairly deep and Aguero, finding space between two static centre-halves, heads downwards and in from six yards. McCarthy gets a hand to it but in it goes ... and this game has suddenly swung far away from Saints.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero scores their third goal
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero scores their third goal Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters
Aguero celebrates with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vincent Kompany
Aguero celebrates with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vincent Kompany Photograph: Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

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45+2 min: “2-1 to the referee” sing the home fans, but I’m not so sure about that. But City, with their first moment of genuine threat for ages, have doused the hosts’ fire at the perfect time for them – and possibly found a way out of what seemed to be some serious trouble.

Goal! Southampton 1-2 Manchester City (Ward-Prowse 45 og)

Oh, what a blow for Saints. That’s come right out of nothing. Sterling receives the ball in a nice position on the left of the box, pulls it across and sees it ping off Ward-Prowse past a startled McCarthy and in. City are ahead again!

Raheem Sterling is congratulated after his deflected cross went in.
Raheem Sterling is congratulated after his deflected cross went in. Photograph: Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

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43 min: Saints are now harrying City like tigers, forcing errors and hurried clearances. It’s what brought the goal and it’s the style Hasenhuttl swears by. It just took them half an hour to do it! They scream for a penalty as Ward-Prowese chests the ball down in the box and goes over under Zinchenko’s challenge, but I think it would have been softy.

James Ward-Prowse of Southampton goes to ground in the box under pressure from Oleksandr Zinchenko.
James Ward-Prowse of Southampton goes to ground in the box under pressure from Oleksandr Zinchenko. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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42 min: City, at last, get back on the ball again and Aguero snatches a glimmer of a chance wide after decent work from Bernardo Silva on the left.

39 min: How this has turned. Saints come again and earn another corner. This game is alive now. It’s defended well enough but how things pan out now will be fascinating. City have not been in the game in the past 12 or 13 minutes.

Goal! Southampton 1-1 Manchester City (Hojbjerg 37)

And that good spell brings devastating results! City build from the back again and everything seems OK. But Zinchenko, 40 yards from his own goal, doesn’t realise Hojbjerg is around to pick his pocket and is swiftly mugged. The midfielder surges forward, with City on the turn now, and brings the ball into box – lashing the ball fiercely into the roof of the net above a startled Ederson!

Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scores the equaliser
Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scores the equaliser Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Hojbjerg celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal
Hojbjerg celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

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36 min: For all City’s control has been near-total, Saints could easily have scored twice here. They’ll take some encouragement from the last five or six minutes, definitely, although their flow is interrupted by some treatment to Bernardo Silva – who seems to have sustained a cut of some kind but is back on now. Burnley lead West Ham 2-0, in the meantime.

33 min: This is Saints’ best spell, which isn’t really saying a lot admittedly, and Aguero – of all people, etc etc – is back to stop Hojbjerg letting fly inside the box. He’s then booked for felling Targett out on the left. Ward-Prowse delivers well and the home side earn their first corner. From which Ederson saves brilliantly! Ward-Prowse’s inswinger is flicked on at the near post by Austin, who appears to have found the far corner but is thwarted by a big hand by the keeper!

Ederson of Manchester City makes a save from the header by Charlie Austin of Southampton.
Ederson of Manchester City makes a save from the header by Charlie Austin of Southampton. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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29 min: Saints do whip a couple of balls into the City box now, though. They’re defended comfortably enough but that’s something. It all goes wrong when Elyounoussi knocks the ball out of play from a well-placed throw-in, to more groans. City’s only problems are coming from their own dalliances at the back and Ederson has to get himself out of danger a mere yard from the goal line with another smart piece of footwork.

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27 min: Sterling, found by a silky Zinchenko pass, cuts inside but tries to do too much and two Saints defenders crowd him out in a slightly ungainly scissor-type format. There is absolutely nothing for the home fans to shout about currently.

25 min: What will annoy Hasenhuttl is that, quite apart from their obvious technical and footballing superiority, City are winning all the 50/50s and plenty of less favourable challenges too. They nearly score a second now, a brilliant one-touch move ending with McCarthy spreading himself to block from Aguero from six yards. He’s saved his side twice now and City could be out of sight here.

Southampton’s Alex McCarthy makes a save from Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero
Southampton’s Alex McCarthy makes a save from Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters

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23 min: And another corner for City, who are so dominant it’s untrue. It goes short this time and is again eventually cleared, but Saints just can’t get on the ball here and City begin to build again.

21 min: City’s second corner of the game is swung in by Mahrez, whose delivery is good but met by a Saints head. Back come the visitors, though, retaining possession and then almost carving out another opening as Danilo surges forward before finding Aguero, who is tackled at the last.

19 min: Stephens almost gifts City another chance with a sloppy pass. City just aren’t letting Saints build from the back, but the home side really might do better if they woke up a tad and improved their decision making. Moments later City almost score one of the goals of the season, a piece of defensive brinkmanship from Ederson, Kompany and Fernandinho in their own box ending with an intricate escape from danger and a 50-yard run and curler inches wide from Mahrez.

17 min: Southampton really can’t get out, although their supporters can enjoy themselves for a moment when Sterling lets a simple Zinchenko pass trickle out of play. Burnley are ahead against West Ham, to compound their early difficulties.

15 min: Groans from the home fans as Ward-Prowse receives possession in the City half but is forced backwards. That Austin chance was a good one but it came from their only moment inside opposition territory so far.

13 min: This has “long afternoon” writ large upon it for Southampton at the moment.

Goal! Southampton 0-1 Manchester City (David Silva 10)

Saints are made to pay. Bernardo Silva is played in down the right by Mahrez and there’s tonnes of space. He lays back with the outside of the foot to David Silva, again eight yards out, and this time he makes no mistake. The finish is emphatic and the goal had, perhaps, been coming despite that Austin blooper.

Manchester City’s David Silva scores their first goal past Southampton’s Alex McCarthy
Manchester City’s David Silva scores their first goal past Southampton’s Alex McCarthy Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Silva celebrates after with team mates Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez
Silva celebrates after with team mates Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

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9 min: Oh, Austin has a golden chance! Elyounoussi’s diagonal ball catches City’s defence napping and the striker doesn’t seem to quite believe how much time he has. Ederson is coming out quickly but if he sorts his feet out he could slot it past him into the vacant goal – but messes his touch up and the relieved keeper gathers.

5 min: It could – should? – be 1-0 to City. Stephens tries to shepherd the ball away from Sterling near the left byline but makes a total mess of it and now there’s trouble. Sterling turns inside and finds David Silva, who is only eight yards out. He takes a touch and goes for goal – you can hear the away fans cheering but in fact McCarthy makes a quite excellent one-handed save and Saints, who aren’t helping themselves at this stage, survive!

Manchester City’s David Silva shoots.
Manchester City’s David Silva shoots. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters

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3 min: City seem to fancy this, Aguero and Silva combining smartly to send Sterling away but finding the move thwarted by a correctly-raised flag.

2 min: City show first, Mahrez trying to make for the byline but finding Targett in his way. A corner results, but David Silva’s delivery is flicked away by a defender.

Peeeeep! City get us underway

If you are watching in your mind’s eye, they kick from left to right.

Anyway – the teams are out at St Mary’s. We’re close!

Is that so? Their front three, yes. But players such as Henderson, Keita and Gomez have missed a fair bit of football haven’t they?

Ok, ok. But did they play awful football? I thought they tried to do the right things but just weren’t good enough in either box. The change had to be made but they weren’t *dour* were they?

Saints, by the way, field an 18-year-old at right-back. Kayne Ramsay makes his league debut and what an occasion this is for him!

Guardiola speaks on the prospect of a title chase: “I have been in my career in this position many times, it’s not new. [We must] work to try to come back. Winning the next game is what we have to try to do.”

That’s that then.

Chelsea have won at Palace – Kante scoring the clincher. They stay fourth, ahead of Arsenal by five points.

A good Saints stat. They’ll be looking to harry City intensively, I fancy.

City fans, do you think the wheels have come off? Or is this just the sort of blip that should normally happen to everyone, accentuated by the fact Liverpool have come to look so imperious? The tempo on and off the ball is just that little bit down, isn’t it – is Guardiola’s style that difficult to maintain over a period of years? I don’t know, but I’d like to hear if you do.

As I write, Crystal Palace are hosting Chelsea. They’re doing so fairly graciously at the moment, as they’re a goal down. Can’t they play Man City every week? Jacob Steinberg has the MBM:

Team news

Southampton: McCarthy, Ramsay, Bednarek, Stephens, Targett, Romeu, Elyounoussi, Lemina, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Austin. Subs: Yoshida, Long, Ings, Armstrong, Redmond, Gunn, Valery.

Man City: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Silva, Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling. Subs: Walker, Stones, Sane, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus, Foden, Muric.

Kompany, David Silva and Fernandinho are back for City, who miss Kevin De Bruyne – perhaps crucially, who knows? – and Ilkay Gundogan.

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Hello

What have we here? Manchester City *scrambling* to stay in the title race? Not quite – but almost, sort of. They are 10 points behind Liverpool, a tally that hardly seems believable, and really need to buck up pronto if Jurgen Klopp’s men aren’t going to to disappear over the horizon in the manner they did last season. If that sounds a touch alarmist, consider that City host Liverpool on Thursday – if they don’t get something today then it’s arguable the entire season hinges on that. Which it might anyway.

Glad we’ve cleared all that up. Basically it all means we’re in for a fascinating and possibly very critical 90 minutes in the season. It’s hard to know what to expect from Southampton, who – *controversial opinion alert* – weren’t terrible under Mark Hughes but had found a bit of extra bite under Ralph Hasenhuttl until their defeat to West Ham. In truth we won’t really know what the Saints are until next season. Hasenhuttl has fairly complex ideas of pressing and work without the ball, in particular, and you’d imagine he will instil those in fairly lite form until they are over the safety line. But this certainly seems a slippery one for Guardiola and company against an unpredictable side that will be up for it – and probably not a fixture they wanted at this stage.

Perhaps they should watch the video of this fixture in March, where Gabriel Jesus struck at the death to ease them over the 100-point barrier. Times have changed, although not drastically just yet. Everyone loses a couple – in a healthy competition, anyway. But City have broken the mould of everything we expect in the Premier League over the past 15 months; they either have to get their mojo back pronto, or find another way to get back on track.

It should be fascinating. Send in your emails and tweets – and let’s go on this journey together!