Guardiola’s fears realized as City draws; Mane’s 100th goal




Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola watches during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AP) – Manchester City’s fans cannot say they weren’t warned.

Pep Guardiola incurred the wrath of some City fans when he urged “more people” to attend the home match against Southampton in the English Premier League on Saturday than had come for the Champions League win over Leipzig in midweek.

The short turnaround between games and Southampton’s high-energy approach clearly concerned Guardiola and he was proved right, with City toiling to a 0-0 draw at Etihad Stadium to drop points for the second time in five games of its title defense. City lost to Tottenham in the opening round.

“Today we didn’t have the freshness in our mind,” Guardiola said. “I wouldn’t say in our legs, in our mind.”

There was a near-capacity crowd for the game — compared to an attendance of 38,062 inside the 55,000-seater Etihad against Leipzig — and the City fans gave noisy encouragement to their team while apparently showing no ill-feeling toward Guardiola after his comments.

“Always when the game is not good, I feel bad for them,” Guardiola said of City’s fans. “They come to see a show, to see a game, and when it doesn’t happen I feel a bit guilty because we didn’t play good.”

Liverpool faced the same turnaround as City, hosting Crystal Palace at Anfield less than 72 hours after Jurgen Klopp’s side beat AC Milan there in the Champions League on Wednesday. There were no such problems for the Reds in a 3-0 win secured by goals from Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita.

It was Mane’s 100th goal for Liverpool in all competitions, in his 224th appearance.

After losing its opening three games, Arsenal made it back-to-back wins by beating Burnley 1-0 thanks to Martin Odegaard’s curling free kick. There were also wins for Aston Villa, Norwich and Brentford.

VAR CALLS

City might even be relieved to come away with a point from the Southampton game.

The most significant moment of the match came in the 60th minute when Southampton was awarded a penalty after Kyle Walker was adjudged to have fouled Adam Armstrong. The referee also showed the red card to Walker but was invited to review the incident again on the pitchside monitor following a VAR intervention. Much to the relief of City, he took the view that Armstrong had actually taken out Walker first and decided to cancel the penalty and overturn the sending off.

If that was a close call, there was perhaps an even tighter one in stoppage time. City forward Raheem Sterling smashed home a rebound from near the goal-line after Phil Foden’s header was saved but it was ruled out for offside. A tense few moments followed as VAR checked the decision but Sterling was adjudged to have been narrowly ahead of Foden when the header was attempted.

Guardiola rotated nearly half his team from the Leipzig game and City did not have a shot on target until the 90th minute, lacking the spark in attack that had brought the team 16 goals in its three home games so far this season

MANE’S MILESTONE

Mane would like to play Crystal Palace every week.

He has scored in each of his last nine games against Palace, with the team from south London conceding 10 of his century of goals for Liverpool.

The Senegal forward got to the milestone at Anfield by converting from close range in the 43rd minute after Salah’s header from a corner was parried out by Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Salah’s close-range volley in the 78th was bettered by one from the edge of the area by Keita off his weaker left foot in the 89th.

“I told the boys that is one of the most hard-fought 3-0s I ever saw,” Klopp said.

PRESSURE OFF

The pressure is off Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta for the moment and might be on his Burnley counterpart, Sean Dyche.

Odegaard’s free kick secured a win that followed Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Norwich last weekend. Before that, the Gunners had opened the season with three straight losses.

Arsenal was indebted to a controversial VAR intervention that Burnley felt robbed the team of a second-half penalty. The referee initially pointed to the spot when Burnley substitute Matej Vydra went down under Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale’s challenge but changed his mind after watching the replay.

Burnley has one point from five games and is winless at home in its last 13 games.

Rafa Benitez slumped to his first loss as Everton manager as Leon Bailey inspired Villa to a 3-0 win in the most-played top-flight fixture in English soccer.

On as a 61st-minute substitute at 0-0, Bailey swung in a corner that was headed into the net by Everton defender Lucas Digne for 2-0 before lashing home the third goal in the 75th. Matty Cash opened the scoring in the 66th.

Norwich is still waiting for its first points since returning to the top flight after losing to Watford 3-1 at home, while Brentford won at Wolves 2-0.