Man City play pulsating draw at Southampton
Southampton held on for a well-earned draw at St Mary’s to end Manchester City‘s 12-game winning run in the Premier League, with the leaders edging 12 points clear at the top.
Kyle Walker-Peters scored a superb seventh-minute opener following a neat a one-two with Nathan Redmond, touching the ball into his path before firing beyond Ederson on the bounce.
But Kevin de Bruyne curled a free-kick onto the head of Aymeric Laporte and the unmarked defender nodded past Fraser Forster to level with 25 minutes remaining.
De Bruyne hit the post moments later while Rodri and Gabriel Jesus also struck the woodwork. Forster denied Raheem Sterling too with his legs at close range from a glorious chance in the first half.
“I feel, as a manager, confident for the future with the way we are behaving,” Guardiola told BBC Sport.
“Without the ball, everybody helps each other. I know how difficult this stadium is, with the way they play and how good we have played.”
The result gives a flicker of hope to City’s rivals, who can both make up ground when they play on Sunday, though Guardiola says even if his side had won, the title race is “not over in January”.
Second-placed Liverpool have two games in hand before their visit to Crystal Palace while Chelsea, in third, host Tottenham.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for me to understand how, to drop points after one good performance, for them to say that now the race is open, when before it’s over,” added Guardiola.
“I would love in January to be 40 points in front of teams like Liverpool and Chelsea, the big rivals. But in January it is impossible.
“I would say I didn’t expect to be in this position with this margin. It’s not big, but it’s OK.”
Southampton, who are now unbeaten in eight games at home in the top flight, sit 12th in the table.
Saints prove City’s stumbling block
Southampton have made St Mary’s a tricky place to visit this season, losing just one game on their own patch and stretching their unbeaten run at home to eight games.
Guardiola recognised that beforehand, saying his side faced an “incredible challenge”, and it became even more difficult when the Saints opened the scoring.
It was a goal City themselves would have been proud of, with Oriol Romeu spreading play to the right and Walker-Peters engineering a neat exchange with Redmond before lashing the bouncing ball into the far corner to net his first in the Premier League on his 68th appearance.
Armando Broja also finished smartly when played through soon after and, although the Chelsea loanee had strayed offside on that occasion, he continued to be a threat, heading against the post in the second half from a tight angle.
Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl called on his side to “be brave with the ball” and “not park the bus”, with the hosts taking confidence from a goalless draw in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
They were forced to drop deeper to counter the growing City threat, though, and when Laporte headed in the equaliser, it felt like an inevitable City winner was coming.
City mustered 15 shots in the second half as they pushed for a 13th successive win, but with home defender Mohammed Salisu in defiant form and 33-year-old goalkeeper Forster making several fine stops, the home side showed resilience to earn a point.