Manchester City vs. Southampton: Takeaways from Blues' Premier League Opener
It was a match many expected Manchester City to win with ease, but Southampton put up a credible and plucky fight. In the end though, it was City who took home all the points in dramatic fashion in their home opener.
Carlos Tevez opened the scoring after a well-timed lobbed through pass from Samir Nasri, but Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis capitalized on some sloppy City defense to turn the game on its head.
City would have the last laugh though, as Edin Dzeko finally finished one of the many chances created for him in the game, and Nasri capped a terrific overall performance with a winning goal.
Do City deserve credit for an incredible comeback, or criticism for allowing lowly Southampton to almost beat them at home? How did young Jack Rodwell perform on his debut for Manchester City?
We'll discuss that and more in the coming slides.
Carlos Tevez Is in Fine Form for City
There's a reason Roberto Mancini was willing to take Carlos Tevez back when he straightened up his attitude. There are maybe, at most, five to eight strikers of the same caliber as Tevez in the world today, at least when he is on form.
Tevez scored in the Community Shield against Chelsea to open the competitive season for City, but against Southampton, he was arguably the biggest focal point of the team's offense. He earned his team's penalty, scored the opener, made run after run, linked up with teammates and was the team's lone striker prior to Sergio Aguero's withdrawal.
Simply put, Tevez does it all, and City are all the better for it. Mancini will be hoping that Aguero makes a swift and healthy return, but in the meantime, Tevez looks hungry and capable of bagging plenty of goals in his absence.
Watch out for Southampton
The stats for this game don't look too pretty for Southampton. Manchester City bossed 64-percent of possession and recorded eight shots on target, compared to Southampton's two.
But those numbers are irrelevant. Southampton were given two half-chances, and they converted them both very well.
The squad looks very united, and with better team selection (both Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis should be starters), Southampton could definitely take points off quite a few teams this season.
Balotelli and Dzeko Need to Shape Up in Front of Goal
Edin Dzeko may have scored, but in reality his goal was as lucky as they come. He missed a number of good chances throughout the game and really is fortunate to be on such a successful team, because otherwise his flaws today might've been exposed and analyzed by City fans.
Balotelli was on for only 18 minutes and changed the game's direction upon coming on, but he too wasted a couple good chances. With Aguero out, this is his chance to make an extended run in the starting lineup and show some consistency.
Jack Rodwell: Too Early for a Verdict
Many were surprised to hear that Rodwell would be starting for Manchester City today, considering he struggled to even get games for Everton before signing.
Rodwell's game went well for the most part. He blocked a shot, recorded two interceptions, one tackle, 96-percent pass success rating and 93 passes.
Unfortunately, most fans will remember him for the mistake that led to Southampton's second goal, and he is indeed culpable for that goal, but it's too early to use that as an indication of what to expect in the future.
Rodwell is still adjusting to life with City, and to being a starter for the first time in a long time. If given playing time, Rodwell should blossom into a fearsome defensive midfielder, and one we don't have to worry about being a liability for the City defense.
The EPL Is Truly the Most Exciting League in the World
Bundesliga supporters may have a bone to pick with this slide, which is fair, but even in the Bundesliga it's unlikely you'll get an opening day quite like the EPL's. And in any case, the EPL, for now, still finds itself considerably ahead in the UEFA Coefficients.
But the point of this slide is not to compare the EPL and the Bundesliga, which is also an incredibly exciting league in itself. It's to commend the small clubs like Southampton, Fulham and Swansea City who came in and against all expectations put on a terrific show.
Even West Brom wowed us with a solid 3-0 win over a Liverpool side many expected to come flying out of the gates.
It's been a great opening week for the EPL; now, we patiently await next week's action.